Supporting Children’s Cognitive Development at Home
The cognitive development of a child refers to growth in their ability to think, explore, and experience their environment. This allows them to perceive things around them and understand how they are connected. This, in turn, helps the child to form a logical understanding of their surroundings. Children’s cognitive development helps them to make sense of conduct and develop problem-solving skills.
It should be noted that children achieve different milestones at different points of their lives while growing up. Many of these milestones are associated with their cognitive skills. To boost their child’s cognitive development, parents can encourage their children to participate in different activities. Furthermore, parents can help build new neural pathways in their child’s cognition by helping them figure out different ways of processing information. These neural pathways have the ability to positively contribute to the healthy development of a child’s brain.
During children’s cognitive development, we may be able to point at instances where we can think of children as scientists performing experiments. An important part of experimentation is trial and error. For kids, it is indeed helpful while trying to identify what course of action leads to the best or desired result. As many of these “experiments” can be performed at home, we have listed several activities that can help with children’s cognitive development at home. These activities correspond to different age groups.
Newborns up to the age of 2
Toddlers experience most of the world around them through movement and sensation. As they grow older, they learn to make use of their senses and actions in the best possible way through basic interactions with their surroundings. Although communication is often one way at this stage, during this interaction, children process a lot of what they are exposed to.
- Talking: Talking to babies and naming objects helps children understand how language works. Repetition and consistency are important contributing factors to the success of this method.
- Exploring: Allowing toddlers to feel and experience different but safe objects around them using all their senses helps them form an understanding of their space.
- Hide and seek: Covering and uncovering objects or faces teaches children about object permanence. This is a key milestone in their cognitive development.
- React: Reacting to the movements and intentional actions of children helps them learn about interactive communication.
Children aged 3 to 7
Interaction with children in this age group can be considered a two-way communication. By the time they step into this age group, they have expanded their vocabulary. Children aged 3 to 7 learn to read and use objects as symbols. Some activities to help this age group develop cognitive skills include the following:
- Match match/memory: Playing games that boost the short-term memory of children trains their brains to learn and understand more complex things.
- Puzzles: Solving puzzles by putting together scattered pieces helps develop the part of a child’s brain that visualizes as well as imagines an unfinished picture. Moreover, it is a fun activity to participate in as a family through which children can also practice patience.
- Pretend play: Pretend play is a fantastic way of familiarizing children with the concept of using objects as symbols. Let your broom become a horse or the teddy bear pose as the patient in your children’s clinic.
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Ages 8 to 12
Children belonging to this age group begin to apply logical reasoning to real objects. They tend to become less egocentric and start to put themselves in others’ positions. Additionally, this age group can understand problems and situations with an increased level of complexity. Useful activities to encourage the cognitive development of children aged 8 to 12 include the following:
- Sudoku: Solving sudoku riddles at different levels of difficulty increases kid’s understanding of general mathematics. It also boosts their ability to perform logically-challenging tasks.
- Reading: Reading not only helps with the development of their language skills but also with the understanding and processing of what has been read to them. Moreover, the reading material can help them comprehend different concepts.
- Complex strategy games: Learning and playing complex games such as chess provide children with a great opportunity to understand the multifactorial consequences of their actions. It also helps them gain the ability to consider other options and choose the best one before impulsively choosing the wrong option.
Ages 12 and above
As children grow older, their cognitive development also progresses. At this stage, the skills of abstract thinking and forming hypothetical ideas begin to develop. Furthermore, their problem-solving skills become more systematic, rather than a trial-and-error approach. Depending on their age and the progress of their cognitive development, teenagers can be encouraged to do the following:
- Riddles: Solving riddles is not just fun for kids, but it can also be a fun activity to participate in for families. Riddles come in all shapes and forms. For some digital examples, check riddles.com.
- Word games: Playing games such as scrabble or solving crossword puzzles exercises our brain in different ways.
- Card games: From Crazy Eights to Poker, fun card games exist for everyone and make for great family moments.