8 Different Sensory Inputs in our Bodies

I learned in school when I was younger that there are five senses. When I realized my son was a sensory seeker, these five senses were what I had in mind when I realized I needed to give him more sensory input in his day. After more research, I realized there were actually eight sensory inputs our bodies have! 

There are professionals all over our world going to school and working in this field of study that know this information, and then mere uneducated individuals like me that are just now realizing that there’s more to our bodies than the five senses I learned in kindergarten! Wild! 

So just in case there are more of you out there like me that are new to this 8 senses game, I’m going to break down what each of the senses is in terms I understand, and hopefully you can too. 

Sight

Taste

Touch

Hearing

Smell

And then the three we don’t know as much about. 

Proprioceptive: This one is the “hard work” one in my mind. This sensory function utilizes muscles and ligaments in our bodies to move us through space. It also tells us where we are in space and in relation to other objects. Sensory seekers for this area are going to be pulling and pushing objects, carrying heavy things, or running, doing all of these things with as much force as possible. Sensory avoiders will be using their limbs and muscles the least amount possible. Things like lifting or pushing can feel very overwhelming to them. 

Vestibular: When I think of vestibular, I try to remember the “inner ear” because that’s the key point to vestibular sensory input. It’s spinning, swinging, and hanging upside down. Those that avoid vestibular input want their world to stay put. Anything that makes them dizzy or feels out of control is a no-go for this sensory input. Those that seek vestibular input are doing everything they can to throw their inner ear off balance- spinning, swinging, rolling, hanging upside down. 

Interoceptive: This is the feelings and senses that we have within ourselves. It’s within our brain letting us know how our body is doing and what we are feeling. And not just emotionally, but physically as well. This can be a headache from dehydration, it can be pain in your arm when it’s burned, or even just the feelings of a sad, broken heart. This sense can be incredibly strong for some and dull for others, meaning we all feel pain and emotion at different levels.  

I hope this mostly simplified version of the three new senses helps you understand them a little more. 

Do you have a sensory seeker or avoider in your home or your classroom?

Photo by Ameruverse Digital Marketing Media

“Where’s The Mom?”

We live across the street from our local post office. It’s amazing. 

My oldest child (5 years old) is the type of kid that absolutely needs her independence. She thrives when given opportunities to do things by herself. 

Recently I’ve had several packages to ship off to friends and family, and getting to the post office with three kids in tow can be extremely challenging, even if it’s right across the street! 

So I let my 5-year-old take another independent leap by sending her on the errand for me, by herself. 

With the package addressed and ready to ship, she walks across the street alone, $5 tucked safely in her purse to pay the shipping fees.

She’s been on enough errands with me that she knows what to do. She knows how to wait in line and ask for help at the counter when it’s her turn. She’s pretty good at exchanging money and keeping receipts safe for the travels back home. 

The first time I sent her I watched out of our family room window for the entirety of her visit, just to make sure everything was okay. But as time went on, I trusted her more and more with her abilities and didn’t pace by the window waiting to watch her walk back home. 

One day after coming home from her post office errand, she told me the lady working at the counter asked her where her mom was. I asked my daughter what her response was and she said, “I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t say anything.”

It got me thinking, what would the correct response be? 

Her mom was right next door. 

Her mom was observing from afar.

Her mom was teaching valuable life lessons. 

Her mom was providing an opportunity for independence. 

Her mom was showing a high level of trust not only for her daughter but also for the postal workers and other patrons in the building. 

I don’t think the worker meant any malice when asking the question. I’m certain after assessing the situation, she realized my daughter was there to run an errand for me and was in no way distressed or neglected. It takes a village to raise a child and our sweet postal worker was only making sure my daughter was okay. 

But we’ve also transitioned into a more stressed and scared society, causing us to be wearier of letting our young kids do things for themselves. 50 years ago no one would have thought to even question her. This pushes me to allocate opportunities for my children to find independence throughout their young lives so that they can grow up to be contributing members of our society. 

By sending them on errands by themselves, within a reasonable distance from our home.

By letting them go into the library alone to return and check out books while I wait outside. 

By picking out and buying their own ingredients and supplies at the grocery store for the cupcakes they’ve been wanting to make. 

“Independence is not a static condition; it is a continuous conquest, and in order to reach not only freedom, but also strength, and the perfecting on one’s powers, it is necessary to follow this path of unremitting toil.”  

-Maria Montessori

Photo by Matheus Bertelli

Ideas On How to Support Our Community’s Teachers

It’s no secret that teachers within public schools (and even private and charter schools) struggle to find the resources they need. How can we as parents and community members help support them? Here are a few ideas! 

  • Give your time. Volunteer in classrooms, help out in the lunchroom, grade papers, put together class parties, or read with students in the hallway that could use extra practice. If you offer your time to the school, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll find ways to put you to work. 
  • Provide teachers with shelf-stable snacks. Oftentimes teachers are buying these for their classrooms out of their own pockets, so it can be helpful to provide them with some to keep around. 
  • Give them positive feedback on things you enjoy or notice about their teaching. It can be such a thankless job sometimes! So nice comments can go a long way for teachers that can use a pick-me-up. 
  • Provide Amazon or Walmart gift cards for their classroom so they can purchase needed supplies.
  • Ask teachers specifically what they need. Check-in throughout the school year to see if there are school supplies, snacks, or other things you can provide. Ask if they need help with classroom parties or if it would be a benefit for you to spend an hour or two in their classroom each week helping with things. 

As a rule of thumb, if you’re heart is in the right place and you’re trying to help, anything you do for your school and teachers can help them in some way. Don’t forget about the P.E., computers, music, and other extracurricular teachers too! They deserve and need help, too! 

If you’re a teacher, what would you add to this list? If you’re a parent, what is a way you like to support your local schools? 

There’s A Lot of Learning For Kids In Traveling, And I’ll Prove It

Have you ever hesitated to pull your child out of school for a family trip? Well, let’s talk about traveling with kids. I know that even just reading this sentence can cause anxiety in some! To be honest, it does for me, too. 

But there is a lot of importance, development, and learning that can come from traveling with kids. And this can be any level of traveling! It could mean packing up and taking an airplane to the other side of the globe, and it could also mean taking a class to the next town over for a field trip. Traveling can be a far or small distance, a long or short amount of time! A few months back I drove my kids one hour to our state’s capitol city to visit the zoo and see the capitol building. We left home around 9 am and were home before dinner. That was still traveling with kids! 

Why is it so important? Because there can be so, so much learning and development when adventures like this are taken. 

Children learn about different cultures by traveling. It’s fun to read books about cultures and maybe even watch videos, too. But you know what’s an even more engaging and fun way to learn more about the Native American tribe in your state? By visiting them. 

Children become more empathetic and understanding of others when they are given chances to experience and interact with people that are not just like them. It is within our human nature to help those that are most like us, but when we spend time loving others, we are allowed to expand that empathy. And what better way to accomplish this than… visiting those people? 

It teaches them to go with the flow. Especially for our school-aged children that are set on a very consistent schedule every day (which is very good for them!), it’s also great to let them experience what it’s like to have to change and adapt plans as needed. 

It gives them the chance to see how the world works. A country-dwelling kid may marvel at the use of the subway system in NYC, while a city-dwelling kid may marvel at a field of wild horses in Idaho. 

They learn that they have a place in this world. In a culture that is very adult-oriented, it can be overwhelming to kids when they feel like they don’t have a place they belong. But showing them that planes, trains, and buses are for them, too, gives them the message that they have a place and role in each community that they are allowed to be a part of. 

There are all of these reasons and more why taking the time and effort to travel with kids can be incredibly beneficial. I will be the first to admit, it takes a lot of extra time, effort, and planning. But the payoff can also be incredibly worth it. And pulling them out of traditional school to learn in different ways isn’t the end of the world! In fact, it may just open up their world.

Do you travel with kids? What learning experiences have you found yourself coming across while traveling with them? 

Photo by Ivan Samkov

A California Teen Taking Care of the Town’s Invasive Species

In a rural California community, a teen has set out to help rid of an invasive species along the river that borders their town. She writes, 

“A problem that I have recently observed is the massive amount of weeds there are in the river. Based on the stories that go around town, a certain woman thought they were pretty plants so she put some in the river. After some research, I have found that these invasive water plants are called water hyacinths.”

“These invasive water plants have small seeds that can easily spread, making the plant very invasive to bodies of water. In the river, the water hyacinths have spread across to where boats or kayaks may have a hard time crossing. Not only does this plant provide a danger to people, but also to the fish in the river. According to the Prarie Research Institute, when the fall arrives, the hyacinths will die, falling to the bottom of the river, taking the oxygen with them. This puts the river wildlife in danger as they do not have enough oxygen to survive. The environment is put in danger when the water hyacinths are free to spread. “

“These combined reasons are why I would like to do something about the situation. Seeing the river every time I passed over the bridge overhead, I would look at the damage that the weeds were inflicting. Every time I would pass over the bridge, it seemed as if the weeds had spread even farther. I felt pain for the environment every time I saw the weeds as I knew that nothing was being done to stop it. Prior attempts had only made the situation worse. I took it upon myself to see how I could present a project that would clean up my river. Protecting my town motivated me to start the project of removing the invasive weed of water hyacinth. “

“The long-term goal of this project hopes to create a better mindset for the people of my town. By bringing people together to help better the environment, their perspective can change the way they view the world. This goal intends to change the minds of individuals to start caring about the environment and to also have them realize that however small they may be, they can make a change.” 

Her community outreach project is incredibly impressive and we are looking forward to seeing how it continues to unfold over the next few months.

Photo by Pixabay

To the Parents Newly Entering the School System: You’ve Got This

I spent many years going to school to become a teacher. More specifically, a public school teacher. I wasn’t opposed to private or charter schools, but I did feel more of a draw for public schools. Maybe because that was my school experience, so that’s what I felt the most comfortable with? 

During my undergrad, I was able to spend time in around 5 different public schools and 1 public charter school in the Cache Valley, Utah area. It gave me a good look into the amazing, the good, the bad, and the ugly of our public school systems. 

When it came time to register my oldest for kindergarten, I was excited for her to start in a public school that I felt so drawn to! (For the record, I was open to her attending private or charter, but it’s not a feasible option in our current location.) We walked into the halls of the school on a mid-May day and could hear students practicing songs for their end-of-the-year program. We could physically feel the spring itch everyone had, ready for school to be out for the year so that summer vacation could officially commence. It made me so excited! We took the registration papers from the front desk, filled them out, and received all of the information we needed to know about the first day of school in the fall. 

The summer went on with constant excitement and conversation about starting school. I realized that as the day came closer and closer, the more nervous I felt. I tried not to let this show to my daughter, she was just one giant ball of excitement, and I knew if my nerves were showing, she would take them on herself, and that was something neither of us needed. 

Our school allowed parents to request teachers, but we were new to this town we were in and didn’t even have anyone we could ask for their opinions on which teacher to request! I assumed all four kindergarten teachers were probably amazing because it really takes an amazing human being to choose the profession of a kinder teacher. But when it came down to it, the reason I had so much anxiety about sending my daughter to school was the amount of control I had to give up as a parent. 

I’ve tried really hard not to be a helicopter mom to my kids and allow them as much independence as possible, which can sometimes be hard to do when you just want what’s best, easiest, and safest for your kids! However, research article after research article will tell you how important it is for children to have independence, opportunities for decision-making, and even moments of failure or risk. 

What ended up being the hard part for me was the fact that I had complete control over who was taking care of my children at any given time in their lives. Anytime we had babysitters, extra help with our kids, had to leave them overnight for something, or even just child care during work hours, I was always able to have a very large choice in the matter. When we chose a daycare for our kids, I took the time to tour and interview various daycares near us to choose which one I felt most comfortable sending my kids to. 

When it came time for my oldest to start public school, it wasn’t a matter of “tour various locations and interview many people to make the best possible decision.” It was a matter of, “This is where the boundaries say your child should go to school, so this is where you will go. Furthermore, we will assign teachers to the students.” 

Okay, it wasn’t that harsh. A lot of school districts will allow you to change schools and/or districts if you go through all of the right steps and paperwork. And they did allow requests for teachers. 

But in a large way, I really did feel like I was giving up so much of my voice and control over who my child spends time with and what she is exposed to all day every day by sending her to public school. It was daunting and anxiety-inducing. 

However, we are almost three months into it, and I’m realizing that it’s okay. 

It’s okay for her to be around a good diversity of safe adults within a public school. 

It’s okay for her to choose who to play with at recess. 

It’s okay for her to choose not to eat her lunch sometimes. 

It’s okay for her to grow and develop a relationship with her teacher, even if I didn’t handpick that teacher. 

So to all you parents that are new to any school system. Yes, even those that homeschooled for years and years and made the jump out of homeschooling and into public, private, or charter school. 

I see you. 

It’s hard and overwhelming to make this huge adjustment to your life. It’s overwhelming how many decisions are being made that you just cannot be a part of. It can be fearful to wonder what happens in those school hallways for all of those hours that you’re not there with your child, especially if you’ve been accustomed to staying home all day or most of the day with them. 

But it’s also so, so good. For both of you. And it’s okay for both feelings to exist at the same time. You’ve got this. 

Photo by Vlad Vasnetsov

Delaying Kindergarten for Boys? Does it Make a Significant Difference?

I’ve written quite a few posts on here about decisions centered around kindergarten, more particularly on when to send kids to kindergarten. There is so much research out there on what to do, especially for those late summer birthday kiddos. 

My second child is in a similar boat as my first, his birthday is in early August so he is right around the Sept. 1st deadline for starting school as well. If we were to send him to kindergarten when he is supposedly supposed to go according to these guidelines, he would turn 5 years old and then head to his first day of kindergarten just two weeks later. Some kids thrive under these conditions- i.e., my firstborn! For others, this sounds like an absolute trainwreck- i.e., my secondborn. 

We still struggled with the decision for a while, though. 

During our research, my husband and I ended up reading the book Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, a great book full of advice for raising boys in the modern world. In the chapter about starting school, Leonard talks a lot about a study done on brain scans of male and female brains over the period of many years and the findings they had on how a male brain develops vs. how a female brain develops. When it comes to the part of the brain that has to do with attention span, reading, writing, etc., they found that the male and female brains develop at the same pace, but the male brain is roughly two years behind the female brain in this development. 

He is clear that this does not mean that one is smarter than the other, it just means they are different in how they develop. In regards to boys starting kindergarten he states, 

“Trying to teach five-year-old boys to learn to read and write may be just as inappropriate as it would be to try to teach three-year-old girls to read and write. Timing is everything, in education as in many other fields. It’s not enough to teach well. You have to teach well to kids who are ready to learn, kids who are developmentally “ripe” for learning. Asking five-year-old boys to learn to read- when they’d rather be running around or playing games- may be the worst possible introduction to school, at least for some boys.” 

He continues on with the subject and even states that more often than not, you’ll see the majority of boys starting kindergarten at six years old because parents are seeing the benefit of this “gap year” in their sons. 

This research seemed very interesting to me and in observing my own children, it made sense. At three years old my daughter was ready and eager to learn letters and numbers and how to write. At 3.5 years old, my son wants absolutely nothing to do with them and I am doing my best not to push anything on him until he is ready. 

What are your thoughts on sending kids to kindergarten a year later and giving them a gap year? Do you think gender, birth order, or other factors play into the decision? 

Cover photo from pexels.com