Handout | We Experience The World Through These Eight Sensory Systems

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We Experience The World Through These Eight Sensory Systems

Here’s a quick look at the human body’s eight sensory systems:

  • Visual System (responsible for seeing)
  • Auditory System (responsible for hearing)
  • Tactile System (responsible for processing touch)
  • Olfactory System (responsible for processing smell)
  • Gustatory System (responsible for the sense of taste)
  • Vestibular System (helps with the body’s balance and orientation in space)
  • Proprioceptive System (senses the position, orientation, and movement of the body’s muscles and joints)
  • Interoceptive System (senses and responds to the body’s internal state–senses things like hunger, thirst, pain, heart rate, temperature, and the need to use the bathroom)

Early learning sensory play should allow children to get in touch with all eight of these sensory systems. To often, young children’s sensory play is restricted, confined, and curtailed–all to the detriment of their sensory integration. For example, opportunities to do things like flip, spin, jump, tumble, grapple, climb, run, and fall are often limited or restricted.

Early learning programs should think more broadly about what sensory play encompasses and how they can support sensory play that integrates all eight systems.

When selecting a preschool or child care program, parents should look for settings that pay attention to all eight sensory systems.

Here’s a free PDF to help you visualize and remember the eight sensory systems:


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Jeff is an early learning speaker, toymaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ who is really bad at getting his picture taken.

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