Creating Confidence

Sat, 18 Dec, 2021

All You Need to Know About Cognitive development in children

As your child begins school, they also start a long journey of cognitive brain development. Children develop complex cognitive skills throughout their school life that help them learn and apply their minds as teenagers and adults. Supporting intellectual development in children from an early age helps build a strong foundation for success in school and life.

What is Cognitive Development?

In the first five years of their lives, children develop abilities in four categories of development. These are motor skills, language and communication, cognitive development, and social/emotional development.

Among these four, cognitive development is concerned with a child's brain development. It involves the growth and development of thinking, knowledge, problem-solving skills, and understanding of the world around them. Promoting cognitive development in children from a young age is the secret to raising smart and successful kids. Fostering cognitive development in early childhood helps your child gain better intellectual skills as they grow up.

Importance of Cognitive Development in Childhood & Early Adolescence

In young children, the brain develops new connections and new abilities every day. Every time your child experiences something new (positive or negative), they build a new link in their mind. To promote a child’s cognitive development, parents and caregivers can –

  • Encourage back and forth interactions (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Talk to them about your thoughts and demonstrate how to express feelings and needs
  • Support active learning
  • Show them that they have your 100% attention and be patient through learning processes

All the domains of development in childhood and adolescence depend on each other. Children's cognitive skills develop better when they feel physically strong, emotionally secure and get sufficient opportunities for social interaction.

What are the Four Stages of Cognitive Development?

Every child has their own ability to understand and develop cognitive skills at their own pace. But experts say that the development of cognitive skills in children happens in four stages -

1. The Sensorimotor Stage

AGES: Birth to 2 Years
In the beginning, an infant constantly lives in the present. They only make sense of what is happening at the moment and the objects in front of their eyes. Towards the end of this stage, children develop an understanding of object permanence. They can have a mental picture of an object and know it exists even if it is not in sight. Some other skills that infants develop at this stage of cognitive development are –

  • Self-recognition
  • Deferred imitation
  • Representational play
  • Representing the world mentally

2. The Preoperational Stage

AGES: 2 to 7 Years
In the toddler age, children begin to develop memory and imagination. They start to think about things symbolically. Toddlers beginning the preoperational stage of cognitive development begin to understand the meaning of names. By the time your child is two years old, their thinking is still intuitive, which means that they make subjective judgments about situations. Also, it is normal for a child's thinking to be egocentric at this stage.

3. The Concrete Operational Stage

AGES: 7 to 11 Years
After the age of seven years, you will observe a change in the cognitive skills of your children. Children begin to think logically and become more aware of the world around them. They can imagine a process in reverse and apply their mind to things like organization and inductive logic. And that's why this stage of cognitive development is an excellent time for children to start learning life skills every child needs, such as communication skills, reasoning skills, and sports.

4. The Formal Operational Stage

AGES: 12 Years and up
At this age, children are intellectually developed to a great extent and exhibit adult-like characteristics in their approach to life. Formal operational thought is a stage of cognitive development in children that is free from physical and perceptual constraints. Children and adolescents easily understand abstract ideas and hypothetical problems.

What Can You Do to Promote Your Child’s Cognitive Development?

To promote your child’s cognitive development, it is essential to initiate high-quality interactions with them every day actively. For cognitive development in early childhood, you can –

  • Talk to your baby about commonly used objects, such as clothes, shoes, and food.
  • Allow your baby to explore toys and move about. Prop them up on a pillow if they are yet to learn how to sit.
  • Show them books with colourful pictures and puzzles.
  • If your child shows an interest in a specific area, expand their exposure to that domain. E.g., if your toddler is interested in animals, take them to the zoo.

In the later stages of cognitive development in children, the essential role of a parent is to offer maximum exposure. If you see your child developing an interest in arts or science, encourage them by allowing them to have fun with the subject.

Learning is both social and individual. Children are not just passive recipients of knowledge from adults. They are growing and developing every minute. Experts say that children who accumulate various experiences from a young age are more likely to make good progress in their cognitive development. Development in the school-age depends not just on the school but also on the environment the children get at home.