originally written for and published on Wolf+Friends
When you can’t provide your child with outdoor vestibular activities, a swing is a wonderful addition to your play space indoors.
Parents know to expect a bit of stir-craziness in kids on bad weather days. At the first glimpse of sun, we push kids outdoors to run, jump, climb, crash, and swing to help combat the pent up energy overflowing into our homes! While you may be encouraging sensory play to save your sanity, there is a bigger reason to send the kids out to the playground — Kids’ bodies and brains develop thanks to all of the movement they experience!
While we are all familiar with the five senses, the sense of movement (or vestibular sense) is unfamiliar to most parents. The vestibular sense gives a child information about where their body is in space, if they’re moving or still, how quickly they’re moving, and in what direction. As your child develops and learns through moving, the vestibular sense informs eye/head coordination, muscle tone, balance, and bilateral coordination. Think about all that your child will do as they grow - catch a ball, zip a coat, cut with scissors, copy from the blackboard in school, ride a bike, play a sport - without a developed vestibular sense, these activities would be a challenge!
When you can’t provide your child with outdoor vestibular activities, there are alternatives you can add to your play space indoors. Ideally, a sensory swing allows for rotational movement (in all directions) as well as linear movement (back and forth, side to side). Pick your color, fabric, or style of sensory swing and change them out from time-to-time to keep your child engaged. Installing a sensory swing in your home can be as simple as finding a spare doorway, setting up a pop-up tripod stand, or recruiting a handy friend to drill into a ceiling beam. Just remember that there can be too much of a good thing - so limit spinning and rotational swinging to avoid any negative effects!
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