Developing cognitive skills in our younger years is crucial to success later in life; after all, these skills enhance our thinking, memory, reasoning skills, ability to pay attention, and more! We can train our brains to strengthen these skills, and by starting young, the process is easier, as kids are speedy learners.
Various skills exist within cognitive thinking such as perception, attention, memory, and reasoning skills, to name a few—and different activities enhance each of these crucial skills. There are countless exciting ways to encourage your child's cognitive development through numerous methods, ranging from getting out of the house and exploring to working on puzzles together or doing a craft.
Perception skills, specifically visual perception, represent the way your child understands the things they see; for example, when your child recognizes the shape of an apple as round, a circle, or a sphere depending on their age, they utilize this skill. However, this also relates to one's ability to see a sequence, recognize when something is missing, or filter out unnecessary visual information, to name a few.
We use this skill every day—when you're searching for a missing cup in the cupboard, you utilize visual perception to recognize it's missing, filter out the other cups that aren't a match, and finally locate what you're looking for. The various ways of improving this skill in your child include:
- I Spy and word searches
Activities like connect-the-dots or drawing work to improve visual perception by requiring your child to complete a half-finished drawing; they must notice a visual pattern and follow it. This activity is fun for all kids but especially enjoyable to a little artist learning to draw!
I Spy and Word Searches
Games like I Spy require your child to tune out unimportant visual information so they can focus on what they're searching for. Better yet, you can play this anywhere, whether it's in the car, outside, or the house.
Word searches similarly work your child's mind since they require you to ignore all unnecessary letters; however, they also require you notice a specific series of letters, as these letters make up each word.
Puzzles do wonders for cognition by working on multiple skills at once – they require attention, shape recognition, and memory. To complete a puzzle, your child must search for various pieces of different shapes and see how they fit together. If you want to buy a large puzzle, do so and break up the process of assembling it into several days!
The ability to focus on a single project ensures your child remains working on a task until completion; in today's world where we're often jumping from one activity to the next or multitasking, this becomes complicated but necessary.
By multitasking, we give a task less attention and increase our chances of making a mistake. As you look into improving your child's attention, consider the following:
- Thinking Games
- Cooking Activities
Play games like Uno or memory match with your child as these require them to focus on what's in front of them, especially because kids love to win! Set aside time in your day to encourage this development within your child and remove unnecessary stimuli that could distract them.
Puzzles don't just work perception; they also enhance attention and memory, all while having fun! Buy your child a jigsaw puzzle fit for their age at Legacy Toys and carve out a spot to complete it together. Ensure it isn't overly complicated, because this will frustrate a child and lead them to avoid it altogether.
When we cook, we have to pay attention to what we're doing or risk the recipe flopping, so get in the kitchen and cook something together! Steer clear of a complicated recipe, as your child may lose interest and therefore focus—the important thing is that they have fun and sharpen their cognition.
Our short-term and long-term memory aid us throughout life by reminding us what's important. Furthermore, or memory impacts the decisions we make because we recall past events and the outcome of their decisions. Encourage this within your child by:
- Playing cards
- Singing songs
- Playing school
While playing improves attention, it also improves a child's memory; consider games like Go Fish or Memory Match, where children must rely on what they've already asked or seen to win. These games are also simple and sure to keep a child's busy mind occupied!
Sing nursery rhymes with your child and ask them to recite them back to you; they recall word order through this. Moreover, by associating the words with rhythm, your child has an easier time remembering them because of the pattern.
By playing school with your child and having them be the teacher, you encourage them to show you what they know; your child is required to recite information and present it to you. This skill allows them to feel a sense of pride as they show off what they know!
Our reasoning skills allow us to plan, evaluate, and see the outcome of various decisions before we make them. Enhancing your child's ability to reason is critical to their success later in life.
This skill impacts each decision we make; for example, it's reasoning that allows your child to do their homework instead of watching television. Improve your child's reasoning by:
- Grouping similar objects
- Teaching what's right and wrong
- Encouraging positive behaviors
Grouping Similar Objects
Reasoning doesn't solely correspond to whether or not we make the right decision—it also corresponds to making logical decisions. Work on bettering this in your child by having them group similar objects into specific categories; for example, layout various animal toys and have your child put farm animals in one category, pets in another, and ocean life in a third.
Teach What's Right and Wrong
Set the right example for your kid and lay out the difference between acceptable behaviors and unacceptable behaviors. Depending on your child's age, create scenarios and ask them for the appropriate decision; for example, ask your child if it's appropriate to throw a tantrum when one doesn't get their way.
When your child asks questions, encourage this, as being inquisitive boosts critical thinking and feeds the mind. Moreover, remind your child they're doing well when they make the right decision, such as sharing their toys or displaying empathy.
It's never too early to start learning! Push your child to keep asking questions as their young minds develop. Strong cognitive skills boost our thinking by utilizing the mind, and by doing this in our younger years, we set ourselves up for success.
Make sure your child is ahead of the curve by practicing various activities with them ranging from singing songs to cooking together to doing a puzzle. Legacy Toys has a wide variety of large jigsaw puzzles for sale that you can purchase as you search for ways you can encourage your child's cognitive development.