Children’s work is to play

On the 1st of May, countries worldwide celebrated Worker’s Day. This public holiday was first introduced in 1891 and South Africa has been joining in since 1994. This annual “day off”, also known as May Day, serves as a celebration of workers’ rights. I am yet to find a labourer or employee who disagrees with the importance of this well-deserved holiday.  I hope you enjoyed your day off yesterday!


Worker’s Day applies to schools as well, as teachers and teaching staff most definitely deserve this welcoming duty-free day. And yet, when we think of all the school-going children partaking in Workers’ Day celebrations, it’s sometimes difficult to justify how they may also benefit from a celebration clearly singled out for the workforce? Kids just play every day, don’t they??? Maybe our thinking towards little humans is somewhat unfair?


I have found clarity for this dilemma in the essence of my work: Occupational Therapy.  I wish I had a cent for every time I’ve heard the words “So, do you find jobs for people?” when someone discovers what my profession is. The real meaning of Occupational Therapy (OT) appears to be quite a mystery to some. So, let’s shed some (much needed) light on the subject and find how it could possibly link up with Workers’ Day for kids:


According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupations are various kinds of life activities in which individuals engage, including:

  • Activities of daily living
  • Rest and sleep
  • Education
  • Work
  • Play
  • Leisure
  • Social participation


A young child’s profession is to PLAY … an older child’s is to be EDUCATED. Just as we, as working adults, leave our homes in the morning to go do our day’s work, our children go to school to practice their profession – LEARNING & GROWING. For some children, their work is a piece of cake; for some… not! And that is where OT’s come in: we strive to guide and help our little clients to reach their full potential in all occupational areas they might have.


As OT’s working at Sensory Intelligence®️ Consulting, we aim to enhance children’s LEARNING & GROWING by empowering teachers and parents to implement practical, effective, easy-to-use sensory strategies with the purpose of enabling all children to develop into well-adapted, positive and healthy individuals. We strive to ensure optimal development for all learners by assisting teachers and parents.


Our focus areas, when it comes to education, include (but are not limited to):

  • How teachers can manage their own stress effectively
    Discovering their own sensory thresholds, creating self-awareness and identifying strategies to manage overload and stress better according to their unique assessment results.
  • How to unlock learner potential
    Identifying learners’ sensory thresholds and applying simple, effective sensory strategies to optimize their learning experience.
  • How to change the classroom environment for optimal learning
    Practical, cost-effective ideas to enhance layout, seating and space in a classroom
  • How to deal with stress in learners
    Identifying sensory strategies that educators and parents can teach their learners with the aim of self-regulation when anxious and stressed
  • How sensory play improves development and learning
    Preparing children for optimal learning by addressing their sensory needs during developmental phases
  • How to help learners concentrate in the classroom
    Sensory strategies to enhance focussed attention and a sense of calm
  • How to reduce barriers to learning
    Insights and sensory tips to help children who learn in a different way
  • How to cope with the sensory side to Autism
    Sensory strategies to optimize a child with Autism’s learning and living


A child’s play is a child’s work, which is essential for their preparation for the world awaiting them as adults. We should help them play (learn, work, grow) as well as they can.


I really hope you enjoyed the day off yesterday and if you have kids, I hope you enjoyed a day full of play with them, because after all:


The end of labour is to gain leisure – Aristotle


To find out more about other services we offer at Sensory Intelligence® Consulting, read our latest blog Calm down and call your Sensory Intelligence® OT


Why parents need Sensory Intelligence®

I have been working as an occupational therapist in a clinical setting for the past 20 years. Although the hands-on part of my work involves individual therapy with children, I have learnt over the years that a child cannot be treated in isolation. The importance of family members and dynamics must always be taken into consideration.


If I may add to John Donne’s words: “No man… nor child… is an island”.


Most families consist of vast diversities in terms of personalities, preferences, moods, habits and sensory assesss. Just because you share some DNA, does not automatically mean you will enjoy the same food, clothing, music, smells, colours, sports, activities and friends. We are all unique and different – thank goodness – and we all enjoy different types and amounts of input from our environments.


When considering diversity from a sensory perspective, children (actually all people) are either sensory seekers, sensory neutrals or sensory avoiders.

  • Sensory seekers

-have high thresholds for sensory input
-they need MORE input from their environment to function at
their best

  • Sensory neutrals

-have medium thresholds for sensory input

-they are not severely affected by sensory input and is able to
respond to important stimuli and ignore unimportant stimuli

  • Sensory avoiders

-have low thresholds for sensory input
-they need LESS input from their environment to function


Knowing your children’s sensory assesss is half the battle won when it comes to healthy family dynamics.
Knowing your OWN sensory assess is the other half of that same battle.


Let’s consider some examples of family dynamics:

A sensory seeking child and sensory seeking parent will have lots of fun together. They have loads of energy and a lust for life. These two will understand each other’s need for MORE and will enjoy an active lifestyle filled with activities. However, they may not always know when to stop and can be an exhausting pair for the rest of the family. They may also be restless and struggle to focus on one task at a time, especially when they are together.


A sensory avoiding child and sensory avoiding parent will not demand too much from each other, as they both understand that LESS works best for them. They can spend the whole day in each other’s company, without a word… and be perfectly content. This pair might intuitively know what the other one needs. For the rest of the family, they may appear boring, slow and uninteresting, lacking “oomph”. They might need a ‘sensory seeker’ to get them up and going!


A sensory seeking child and sensory avoiding parent can potentially experience lots of conflict due to a difference in sensory needs. The seeking child might demand more affection and attention than the avoiding parent is able to give. This child will typically be perceived as a fidgety, busy, on-the-go child by an overwhelmed sensitive parent. For the seeking child, the avoiding parent might mistakenly seem uninterested and closed-off.


A sensory avoiding child and sensory seeking parent can often be seen in shopping malls on a Saturday afternoon. This sensitive child often experiences sensory overload and reacts by a flight/fright/fight reaction, i.e. “a meltdown”. The seeking parent might seem oblivious to the child’s reasons for this reaction as they’re actively engaging in activities with the intention of creating fun for all. An avoiding child might experience a seeking parent as overwhelming and too much.


As you can see, each pair has strengths and hurdles to overcome.


The fact remain that families are made up of ALL of its members. And to be completely honest, life would be pretty dull without all of these assesss.

In family-life, self-understanding, acceptance of others and Sensory Intelligence® is key to creating a harmonious safe haven for the WHOLE family to enjoy.


To discover your and your family’s sensory thresholds, take our basic FREE Sensory Quiz™ or for a more detailed report, do a Sensory Matrix™ (from 12-year-olds).