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Children grow up in the blink of an eye right from early childhood to their formative years as teenagers, but during that blink of time is when the magic happens. Watching your child grow emotionally as well as mentally, and not just physically, makes you proud as a parent and creates fond memories.
Learn what you can do to enhance cognitive development in preschool children and find out what the four major stages of cognitive development in kids are.
What is Cognitive Development?
Cognitive development refers to the development of thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and creative skills. A whole-brain cognitive development ensures that your child grows mentally and emotionally. According to famous psychologist Jean Piaget, children are found to be as intelligent as adults, the only difference being in their thought processes.
Contrary to popular belief, children do not soak up information like a sponge and try to make sense of the world around them. Their perceptions and perspective develop and sharpen as a result of cognitive development.
Major Stages of Cognitive Development in Early Childhood
At every stage of your child’s development, several changes take place in terms of cognitive development. When your child enters the world, he/she goes through the four main stages of cognitive development which are listed below:
1. The Sensorimotor Stage
In this stage, children soak in the sensations and perceptions of the world through their motor senses. They gleefully go through life and enjoy their surroundings to the fullest, learning especially through the manipulation of objects and by touch. This is when their senses become activated as they continue to make sense of sensory perceptions and gain awareness of their surroundings.
2. The Preoperational Stage
The period of time between ages two and seven is dubbed as the Preoperational Stage. This is the stage when children are not able to make sense of logic but are able to understand images and symbolic representations of information. Put simply, this is when they learn visually and their memory, imagination, and creativity begin to take up shape. Children typically do not understand the viewpoints of others and this is when they begin picking up basic words of languages.
3. The Concrete Operational Stage
Children begin to gain awareness of their surroundings and perceive others’ feelings between ages eleven and ten. This is when emotional development takes place as they begin to be aware of others’ emotions and understand external events. Abstract and hypothetical thinking remains a problem, but foundations of logical thinking and analysis begin building from this point on.
4. The Formal Operational Stage
The period between ages twelve to adulthood is referred to as the Formal Operational Stage. This is when kids begin to further develop their logical thinking skills and learn abstract reasoning and concepts. Systematic planning and problem-solving logical issues start to take shape in the brain during these years.
Tips to Develop Cognitive Skills in Kids
There are several ways you can boost your child’s cognitive development. Here are our top ten recommended tips for enhanced cognitive development in early childhood:
1. Sing Songs
Encourage your child to sing along with you. This promotes memory development and creating associations between words and images.
2. Noise Identification
Teach your child to identify and distinguish between different sounds throughout the word. Whether it’s a bird singing, water running, or a dishwasher grinding, ask your child to identify noises and relate them to objects or actions pertaining to his daily environment.
3. The Alphabet Game
Cut out alphabet pieces and tape them to different areas of your home. Encourage your child to go alphabet hunting and finding the missing pieces in sequence. Let him/her collect the shapes and tape them in order while singing along pleasant tunes related to those letters to facilitate word identification and image associations.
4. Shape Practice
Play balls and fun colourful games with your child which involve manipulating shapes, like Lego blocks or puzzle pieces. As your child slowly grows, ask him/her to talk about objects near them and describe colours and proportions.
5. The Decision Game
Give your child tasty treats and ask them to pick between the different flavours available.
- Would they prefer pizza for dinner or a burger?
- Would they prefer to go to the park or play video games at a friend’s place?
- Red sweater or brown overcoat?
By offering your child choices, you’ll make them feel independent and enable freedom of thought and speech, thus facilitating their cognitive development.
6. Asking Questions
Ask your child questions regarding making daily choices. Asking helps your child think, and enables them to become better problem-solvers. It also helps them understand how their surroundings work.
7. Outings and Trips
Take your child outdoors, visit the museum, the amusement park, and so on. Let your child embark on outdoor adventures and have fun. Let him/her loose in the garden, catch bugs, go insect hunting, and quench their curiosity by asking questions related to outdoor events. Museum trips and taking them grocery shopping are also great ideas.
8. Play Fun Games
From matching lids with pots according to shapes, colours, and container-types to playing jigsaw and board games with kids, playing fun games which facilitate social bonding and logical interactions help build key cognitive skills in areas of their brains. You may even let them play video games once in a while to bring a twist to everyday things! Outdoor games like ‘Peek-a-boo’ and ‘Hide and Seek’ are our recommended game suggestions.
9. Count Objects
Teach your child to count objects, vegetables, shoe pairs, and anything that floats your boat. By practising counting, they build their logical thinking skills. You can make it even more fun by asking how many chocolates they want on their birthday or how many places to visit during weekends! Make them count, make them practice names, and they’ll remember!
10. Exercise and Sports
Teach your child a sport and show them how to exercise. Exercises release endorphins and make them feel good. Plus, it’s beneficial to their health and develops coordination and fine motor skills. Creative exercises like dancing and scavenger hunts outdoors promote logical and creative thinking alongside dexterity and sensory development.
Make sure you foster a loving and happy environment at home that promotes learning and having fun. Children learn more easily when they’re relaxed, engaged, and happy. Time flies as they continue to learn and grow. It is truly an exciting time to be a parent when you see your child grow from a newborn to a toddler and beyond. Make learning an enchanting experience for your child and inculcate a love for learning and more. They will surely thank you after growing into adults as you witness their achievements and milestones hands-on, later in life.