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Everything Parents Need to Know About Cognitive Development in Children

Deepa Chandrashekar
Feb 18, 2022
Schools, Learning
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What is Cognitive development?

Cognitive development is related to neuroscience and psychology that shows how a brain of a child or an adult perceives, processes, and reacts to any information. There are different stages of cognitive development that include reasoning, intelligence, language, and memory and the starting stage of this is when a child is 18 months old. 

Cognitive development steadily builds when a child gets attracted or catches the attention of something while playing, listening, watching, etc.

Piaget’s stages of cognitive development

Jean William Fritz Piaget is a well-known Swiss child psychologist and the person behind the theory of ‘cognitive development. He developed the four stages of cognitive development that detail the cognitive development from the infant to adult stage. 

Piaget’s stages of cognitive development include the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational periods. Piaget’s theory is based on close observation with children and believes that they are natural learners, explorers, and enthusiasts who want to experiment with new things.

Let’s understand the Piaget stages of development in detail.

As and when children grow, their way of thinking increases, and they want to explore more. In the urge of learning new things, children end up faltering in what they know and what they have to know. Hence, in different stages children behave and operate differently and this is well explained in Piaget’s 4 stages of cognitive development.

Hence, in different stages children behave and operate differently and this is well explained in Piaget’s 4 stages of cognitive development.

Sensorimotor stage

Sensorimotor is Piaget’s first stage of cognitive development that describes form birth to two years. This is the initial developmental stage of a child wherein the child is not able to think logically or thoughtfully. This stage is subdivided into 6 stages starting from 1-4, 5-8, 8-12, 12-18, and 18-24 months. The child transitions to the preoperational stage.

Preoperational stage

The preoperational stage explains the cognitive aspect of childhood between the ages of 2 to7 years. In this stage, the children start developing and displaying their qualities like creativity, language imagination, and their thoughts are ruled by principles like egocentrism, animism, and other similar ones. During this stage, children are unable to think or accept beyond their views and thoughts.

Concrete operational stage

The operational stage that lasts between 7 to 12 years depicts the ability to reason positively and concretely. In this stage, their ability to think is better where they can analyze and judge complex situations.

Formal operational stage

In the formal operational stage, children in the age group of 12 to adulthood are exposed to logical thinking and reasoning. This is an advanced stage where they are introduced to concrete and abstract examples that enhances their critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual abilities. They are better decision-makers in choosing their interests and picturing their future.


Five major cognitive functions of the human brain

The human brain is the most complex part of the human body. It is said that in childhood brain development is faster than in adulthood. The brain is the integral part of our body that passes on information across the body parts. There are several functions associated with the brain, but the five most important cognitive functions of the human brain are:

Though intelligence is a broader term that can be defined in various ways it plays a very important role in the functioning of the brain. Intelligence is a part of cognition as they both are related to the mental process that deals with the ability to think, understand, acquire things and deal with them.

Reasoning is the ability to assess, analyze situations and problems and reach a logical conclusion or solve various problems. It is an important cognitive function that has the capability of predictions, problem-solving, concluding, and framing explanations. It has three approaches that are deductive, inductive, and abductive.

Better language development will lead to better cognitive skills. Language is important for cognitive development in children as it helps in interaction, learning new ideas, and communicating their thoughts. The initial stages would be to teach them speeches and gestures and then move on to the understanding of words and sentences.

It is said that the human mind processes the information they receive. Information process is how the human thought process works right from understanding, perceiving, processing, storing, recording, and delivering information. It plays an important role in decision-making during complex situations.

Memory is an important cognitive function that helps in coding, storing, and recovering past information. Memory can be short-term, long-term, auditory, contextual, naming, and recognition.

Cognitive activities for Children's memory

Children progress at a faster pace in the first five years in areas of motor, language, communication, cognitive, social, and emotional development.  Cognitive development that fosters the growth of thinking, knowledge, and problem-solving abilities must be the focal point in the growing years of the children. 

Parents need to provide the foundation of cognitive development in their children that would help them to be successful in the future. A few of the cognitive skills for early childhood that can be introduced by parents are:

● Identifying letters and numbers through simple games, writing activities.

● Identify a few common objects.

● Making them hear the sounds of animals and identifying the animals.

● Flashcards or blocks or rings to identify colours, and build concentration.

● Reading aloud to learn rhymes and words.

● Puzzles to identify objects, people, animals, etc.

● Responding to their queries.

● Segregating colours, shapes, letters, numbers, etc.

● Simple instructions to learn manners, etiquette, and routine. 

Cognitive Developmental Milestones

Cognitive milestones are the achievements of the children in various stages. From an infant to an adult, they learn and explore new things and activities. The cognitive milestones at different stages are:

Birth to 6 months:

● Listen to the sounds around them

● Sucking the nipples of the bottle

● Looking at the colours around them

● Recognize faces of caregivers

● Imitating expressions

6 to 12 months

● Observing objects for a longer time

● Looking at books and images

● Showing expressions and responding with gestures

● Follow instructions

● Expressing requirements with gestures

12 to 18 months

● Identifying similar objects

● Understanding language and responding to the same

● Searching for the toys

● Remembering things around the house

● Solving simple problems

Final Thoughts

Schools play an important role in nurturing the cognitive development of children. Global Indian International School, the best school in India, provides a holistic education system for pre-primary schools

The top CBSE schools in Bangalore offer the unique Global Montessori Plus Programme (GMP) for the preschool that focuses on building language skills, physical growth, universal values, creativity, and futuristic skills through the strong five pillars that form the basis of the GMP.

Deepa Chandrashekar

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