So we're a month into our sessions and it's been a whirlwind of fun and activity. It seems the right time to add in a bit of theory to back up what we do. If you've been to a Spark Sensory baby or toddler session you'll know they are a hive of activity and the time flies by. You'll also know that we want you and your baby to spend more time engaging, playing and exploring and less time passively sitting and listening. We love activity, we love movement and we love exploring. It's all about curiosity and promoting a desire to discover the amazing world around us all. What we don't do is spend precious time in the sessions explaining the theory behind the activities, we're too busy cooing over your little one and having fun!
There is lots of theory, knowledge and understanding behind everything that we do though...
Every session starts with singing and movement in our dome. Babies love a bit of routine so you'll hear a couple of familiar songs every week that are accompanied with signing and movement patterns that trigger familiarity in your baby's brain. It is the building blocks of long term memory and already our regular babies demonstrate their excitement and enthusiasm through heir newly learnt movements. We accompany a range of themed songs with sensory resources such as scarves, ribbon sticks, feathers, soft toys, instruments, puppets and materials. We encourage the babies to watch each other as well as experience lots of prolonged positive physical touch between parent and child. All these activities promote proprioceptive input, vestibular processing and stimulate the endorphins in the brain; encouraging your baby to learn how their bodies move and respond to a range of safe and appealing stimuli and developing their love of positive movement and touch between parent and child. Best of all, we lead the singing and design the activities so all you have to do is focus on your little one.
Next is our free play time around our sensory stations. We always have a 'wet' and/or a 'dry' sensory area, a tactile area (our 'sensory pop up'), small world toys, baby mats and sensory toys. Each week we theme one of the areas around one or more of the schemas, which might be 'transporting' or 'positioning' or 'connection'. This is a fascinating area of child development and you can read more about it here; http://www.nature-play.co.uk/blog/schemas-in-childrens-play. The free flow time around our sensory stations is time for you to connect further with your little one in focused and exploratory play, chat to other mums, encourage social development and relax knowing that the activities are planned and resourced to encourage sensory exploration through touching, tasting and movement.
Our dome is set up for light play in this time and we then encourage you and your little one to move into the dome for the last 10/15 minutes for exploration with textures, lights and sounds. We change the feel of the session at this point to appeal to not only your babies senses but yours too. We change the music and play some more modern tracks (we love a bit of Bieber!) and/or some classical. We zip the dome shut to ensure the light toys are at their most effective. We use this time as an opportunity to connect with you and your little one; encouraging eye tracking and fine and gross motor movements in your babies. It's not unusual for your baby to become a little over stimulated at this point and often a quick little feed is required to calm the senses and offer further nurturing and reassurance.
The session then always finishes with a short sequence of positive touch and massage strokes, which we talk you through. This further enhances your baby's feeling of being loved, respected and secure. It grounds your baby and allows for prolonged eye contact and positive physical connection. It also encourages your baby to fully relax, and therefore sleep (hopefully!)
Bubbles and the same song to finish each week marks the end of the session and then it's time for a quick, quiet relaxation in the dome. We leave at this point and allow you a couple of minutes of quiet, zen-like time, laid down (if you like) with your baby. Unfortunately, you do have to then go home at this point... but hopefully with a relaxed, sleepy baby or a happy little toddler (who may or may not nap in the afternoon - sorry; we're good, but not that good!)
Sounds good? Well, we think it is! If you haven't been to a Spark Sensory Session yet then do get in touch, we'd love to welcome you in our dome...the only rule is that you bring a little person with you!