Cognitive Development

COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENTMany times in my training I will ask the students what they think cognitive means.  Many times, no one knows. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition includes words like thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and remembering as part of intellectual activity.

So the real question  is how do you teach cognitive development?  What are cognitive skills?.  What are children supposed to learn cognitively?  What is a teacher supposed to teach?

PUZZLES is an easy way to start with.

Not just the number and alphabet and animal sound puzzles.  Not only the 12 piece puzzles or the 20 piece puzzles, but also the more multiple piece puzzles and the jigsaw puzzles.  I bet you don’t think a three year old can do such a complicated thing.  Think again.  It’s possible.

But before we get into that skill, let’s discuss what puzzles can do for development.  They teach geometry and shape.  They teach manipulating objects into spaces.  They teach size and form.  They teach color and gradation.  But those are the table and floor puzzles.  There are also abstract puzzles like 20 questions and deciphering clues.

How does this look with infants:  asking questions like “Where is your nose?” and pointing to it. Or playing Peek-a-boo.

With toddlers a teacher can play a hiding game and have children find what you hid with picture clues.  For instance, putting a toy under a table, drawing a picture of a table, and having the child “read” the picture of the table to find the toy.

The preschool teacher can have a mystery box and give clues as to what the object inside looks like or is used for.  To advance this up a notch, the teacher or the children can give a clue without the actual object (abstract thinking).

Reasoning, figuring out, problem-solving, thinking.  That’s developing cognitive skills.  Try something new with the children.  If you have a fun way to teach cognitive skills, please send me your ideas and comments.

But now, let’s talk about helping a young child advance to a multi-piece jigsaw puzzle.  It will take time and cooperation and support and yes, even a group effort, but it’s a skill worth learning and knowing.

Before I close, I want to also mention games of strategy like checkers, parcheesi, Monopoly, and of course chess.  These take time to move into, but all of them can be introduced at the appropriate time to the appropriate aged child in a fun and appropriate way.

Try something new with the children.  If you have a fun way to teach cognitive skills, please send me your ideas and comments.  

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