During preschool and kindergarten (2.5 – 6 years old), children are beginning to develop and learn new skills through play. Play encourages all the important areas of development, which include: social, emotional, physical, communication/language, and cognitive development.
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A child’s cognitive development refers to their reasoning, thinking, and understanding. Cognitive development is important for knowledge growth. In preschool and kindergarten, children are learning questioning, spatial relationships, problem-solving, imitation, memory, number sense, classification, and symbolic play.
Cognitive development skills learned during preschool
This is when a child asks ‘why?’ to determine causes and asks other questions to solve problems, and clarify their understanding.
Exploring the spatial and physical aspects of their environment. For example, when a child places a toy into a container, dumps it out, and then fills up the container again with toys.
When children experiment, investigate, and work together with other children to problem solve. For example, when children ask questions to understand what will happen next.
When children imitate the behaviors of those around them (e.g. other children, educators, and parents). For example, when a child sticks their tongue out imitating another child sticking their tongue out.
Beginning to differentiate between objects and people, and learn their daily routines. For example, when a child puts away their toy bin back in the same place it was before.
A child’s understanding of number concepts (e.g. more and less) and number relationships. They begin to understand quantities, recognize relationships and understand the order of numbers. For example, singing along to ‘Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed’.
A child’s ability to categorize, sort, group, and connect objects. For example, sorting different colored pom-poms into the same colored boxes.
During play, children use objects, ideas, and actions to stand for other things. For example, holding a toy phone up to their ear or rocking a baby back and forth.
3 ways to promote cognitive development of preschoolers
1. Practice the alphabet
Sing along to the ‘ABC’ song and read books about the alphabet to help children learn and identify letters.
2. Practice counting
Provide opportunities for children to practice counting by counting the numbers of different objects found in their environment.
3. Practice colors and shapes
Identify the many different colors and shapes found in the environment with your child.
During preschool and kindergarten, children are beginning to ask questions, practice new skills, try new things, and take risks. Educators and parents play a vital role in supporting children’s cognitive development. As an educator or parent, we need to encourage and provide opportunities for children to learn, enhance and practice their new and emerging cognitive skills.
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