Sensory Social Routines & Object-Based Play

What is a sensory social routine?
Sensory social routines are activities in which an individual (e.g. parent or therapeutic preschool teacher) and child are happily engaged in a face-to-face social activity. These activities involve interaction between both parties, which means that turns and communication with words, gestures, or facial expressions are encouraged to keep the “game” going. A sensory social routine might be helpful for children in a therapeutic preschool program who require additional support with developmental skills, including communication or play and social skills.

During a sensory social routine activity in a therapeutic preschool program, neither of the individuals are “directing” the other, although it is appropriate for someone to start the interaction. Throughout the course of the activity, the partners will alternate between leading and following, which gives both individuals an opportunity to lead and follow. Sensory social routines typically do not involve objects, however there can be exceptions. For example, bubbles and balloons can be used in a sensory social routine, but the focus is on the interaction, rather than the object. The adult should be in charge of the object, so that the child focuses on people play, rather than object play. In sensory social routines, the partners intently focus on one another, and they engage in a back-and-forth manner.

Creating fun routines in a therapeutic preschool program will motivate children to communicate that they want to continue the activity. Sensory social routines are also beneficial in regulating a child’s emotions, energy, and arousal levels, so that your child is as alert and attentive as possible to you and ready to learn from you. Games, songs, silly faces, and noises are some common examples of sensory social routines.

What is object-based play?
Object -based play are activities that involve objects during the interaction between two individuals. We typically choose the same kinds of objects that other children would play with so they can have an opportunity to interact and learn same concepts. Objects and toys that have several pieces or will allow your child to do several different things with the toy is ideal to encourage taking turns, themes, and variation. The critical factor in play is the joint activity routine structure, with partners face-to-face, actively engaged with each other and activity, and communicating back and forth throughout. Object based play is also a great opportunity to integrate imitation.

CST Academy incorporates both sensory social routines and object-based play throughout the therapeutic day program. Free play often involves more actions on objects, and circle time generally involves songs, finger plays, and other sensory social routines. Book activities and pretend play often blend both. Both are beneficial and important to acquire the skills necessary in child development and group learning experiences. Joint activities that encourage interactions result in increasing learning opportunities, increased language exposure, and increased social interactions.

Sensory Social Routines