Tap the Curiosity of Children to Promote Cognitive Development
Early childhood is not a time when children grow just physically. It is also an age where immense mental growth and development takes place. Toddlers learn continuously by observing and interacting with their surroundings. They also advance quickly in how they process, store and use what they learn. Cognitive development in early childhood refers to the advancement of a child’s capacity of problem solving, language acquisition, learning names and functions of various objects, and so on. It is immensely important and forms the foundation for several other skills that the child learns later in life.
Understanding the process of a child’s cognitive development can help us choose the right activities and hobbies to boost their thinking, remembering and reasoning abilities. Play is an important aspect to consider during cognitive development of a child as they learn new ideas and concepts through games, books and activities. Moreover, there is an enhancement of language, motor skills and social life through play.
Ways to Promote Cognitive Development
To promote a child’s cognitive development, it is important that we actively interact with them daily so that they keep in practice with the linguistic knowledge they gain every day.
- Talking to children and naming commonly used objects: In the early years of childhood, children pick up languages mainly by observing and listening to the people around them. Talking to the child, and pointing out and naming everyday objects, help set the base for their vocabulary development.
- Singing and reading to children: Just as talking to children helps them grasp words and basic phrases, singing and reading to them gradually opens up their mind to more words, and improves their linguistic ability and vocabulary.
- Exposing toddlers to books and puzzles: The mind of a toddler should be deliberately engaged by introducing them to books, puzzles, games, activities, etc. This gives them the scope to think productively and also, beyond the mundane.
- Expanding children’s interests in specific learning activities: Children start developing specific interests as early as at the age of two. Nurturing these interests lays the foundation for later development in the same. For example, a toddler who shows an early interest in dinosaurs can be taken on a trip to a natural history museum to fuel their interest.
- Answering children’s ‘why’ questions: Toddlers tend to be curious and usually have a lot of questions about everything and everyone around them. Taking the time to indulge and answer such questions, no matter how silly, gives children a better grasp on the world around them, and ultimately aids their cognitive development.
How to Help Kids Reach Cognitive Milestones
The inquisitive nature of children makes them eager to learn right from the beginning, be it observing people or imitating their words and actions. The school-going years have a major impact on a child’s life. The earliest years are mostly influenced by the pre-primary teachers whom children meet and listen to on a daily basis. Therefore, teachers at the pre-primary level are uniquely placed to help shape how the children learn, think and develop.
Progress in the Early Years
Toddlers begin to learn about their surroundings from a tender age, including during the prenatal, perinatal and postnatal period.
Prenatal stage: The period before birth, when the child is still in the womb
Perinatal stage: The period immediately after birth
Postnatal stage: The period till some time after birth
A child’s early experiences have deep impact on them. In the early years, they pick up cues from the people they interact with, on how to talk to and treat people, and how to react to and approach situations. These, in turn, lay the foundation for their future physical, cognitive, emotional and social development.
Optimising the early years of a child’s life is the best investment we can make as a society to ensure their future success.