Cognitive development simply refers to the ability to perceive, process, and react accordingly to a piece of any information. All the experiences of an individual’s life span sum up and develop the cognitive functions of the brain. Both genetic and learned factors play vital roles in the overall development process.
In other words, learned factors directly or indirectly arrive from the experiences of human beings. Intelligence, reasoning, language development, memory, and information processing are the major branches of cognitive functions.
In this article, we will learn about cognitive development in children, its stages, and activities that promote the same in productive ways.
Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development
The whole process of cognitive development from infancy to adulthood has been explained using the well-established and informing theory named Piaget’s Stages of Development. The intellectual development of human beings has been categorized into four stages – sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational.
This stage indicates the beginning of memory development in children. The brain introduced physical mobility that promotes better cognitive development. This stage usually lasts till 18 to 24 months of age.
The preoperational stage usually lasts till the age of 7 years in children. Language, imagination, initial creativity, and similar things are introduced during this stage. It is considered an important period for intellectual development.
Signs of concrete and positive reason begin to show by the preadolescent age i.e 7 to 11 years. Children start to think more a little more complex things. It plays an important role in the partial development of the brain.
This stage initializes after the age of 10-12 years where abstract and scientific concepts are introduced. The thinking processes improve and children’s creativity, imagination, and intelligence increase.
Five Major Cognitive Functions of a Human Brain
- Intelligence is an extremely broad and complex concept of understanding and therefore cannot be explained in simple words. Nevertheless, there are several definitions of intelligence that are available on the internet. According to psychologist Robert Sternberg, intelligence can be defined as “the mental abilities necessary for adaptation to, as well as shaping and selection of, any environmental context”.
- Reasoning on the other hand can be explained as the ability to analyze, assess, and evaluate based on logical thoughts and arrive at a conclusion. Explanations and definitions are generally constructed using logical reasoning. It is considered as one of the necessary aspects of cognitive function in individuals. Deductive, inductive, abductive, and metamorphic interference are the four types of reasoning.
- This process of language development begins during the early years of life. Children initiate to focus on the words that are frequently being used by the people near them. The process usually starts with reactions like babbling from the age of 10 months. Primarily, children understand the concepts of speeches and gestures and then the concepts of words and sentences are introduced.
- From perceiving and receiving the information to understanding, recording, storing, and recalling the information, all these processes come under the major head of information processing. Information processing is an important function as it enables human beings in almost all general or complex situations of life that require decision-making.
- According to the proven theories, the storing capacity of a human brain is approximately equivalent to 2.5 million gigabytes of digital storage. Sounds interesting, right? Well, it is no more a doubt that how mysterious a human brain can be. In easier words, memory functions of the brain simply refer to storing the perceived information in the right part and recalling it later at the time of need.
5 Activities That PromoteS Cognitive Development In Children
Parents, teachers, and guardians should start focussing on promoting cognitive development in children as soon as they turn 2 years old. Since, significant neurological development occurs inside the human brain, in the early years itself. Generally, kindergarten schools and preschools primarily work on the same by practicing some fun activities in the classes.
In this final section of the blog, we will be suggesting some really interesting activities that your children will love performing. Because all of these activities engage with at least one cognitive function of the brain (i.e intelligence, reasoning, language, information processing, or memory), they are proven to be extremely advantageous for the long run!
1. Block Games
Block games not only teach toddlers the fundamentals of balancing, but also focus on the concepts of size, height, weight, and patterns. Children that play block games regularly are generally good at understanding the basics of symmetry.
2. Board Games
Board games are one of the most known and productive activities that are not only interesting and fun to play but also very meritorious. There are numerous types of board games available all over the world that focus on different learning topics like numbers, language, and logic, and analysis.
3. Rhyming Activities
Rhyming is the most effective way to develop and further promote the cognitive skills of toddlers. It also helps in understanding several patterns of language and rhymes. Good choice of rhymes also supports increasing the vocabulary of children.
Reading is not only an activity that promotes cognitive development, it also helps in improving literacy, language and analytical skills, logical reasoning, and promotes moral development in children. As already known, books are a rich source of knowledge, facts, information, and experience.
As narration is also a vital part of storytelling, it also helps in boosting confidence and communication skills. Children should be given a general topic to build up a story and narrate the same in front of a small (known) audience.