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Focusing on cognitive development activities can have a positive outcome on how your child learns and retains information as well as on their behavior. Several studies suggest that factors such as unstimulating environments, insufficient exercise and poor nutrition hinder cognitive development in preschoolers.
Other studies have found that preterm or low-birth babies also have a higher risk of suffering from poor cognitive skills.
Weak cognitive skills influence preschoolers’ development. They can influence both their social and academic behavior and outcomes. The good news is that there are many simple activities that you can do at home to strengthen the development of your preschoolers’ cognitive skills.
Understanding cognitive development in preschoolers
Cognitive skills are the skills that your preschooler’s brain uses to perform tasks such reading and paying attention. These are the skills that help them to make sense of and to use information, to remember things and to reason.
Preschoolers need different cognitive skills to process the information that they receive. These skills enable them to:
1) Develop their long-term memory: Long-term memory enables children to store information over a long period of time.
If your preschooler has poor cognitive skills, they may struggle remembering information acquired in the past, easily forget things, or perform poorly in class because of their inability to remember things.
2) Develop their processing speed: Processing speed refers to the time your child’s brain takes to process information accurately.
A preschooler with poor cognitive development will take longer than other kids to understand and complete tasks.
3) Develop their ability to reason: The ability to reason is an important cognitive skill among preschoolers. Being able to reason strengthens their problem-solving skills.
If your child has poor cognitive development skills, they will have a difficult time solving even simple problems, make frequent mistakes, or they will often feel that they do not understand or that they are unable to succeed.
This could lead to feelings of learned helplessness which refers to your child’s development of a pessimistic attitude toward their real capacities and to feelings of overwhelm when faced with challenges.
4) Develop their auditory processing: Auditory processing refers to your child’s ability to process what they hear accurately. This is what allows them to communicate effectively.
If your preschooler has poor cognitive development, they could struggle with understanding the words that they hear and how they process those words. This could lead to reading problems (comprehension and fluency).
5) Develop their visual processing skills: Visual processing refers to the brain’s ability to interpret visual images in one’s environment.
A preschooler with poor cognitive skills may find it difficult to understand what they are reading and could therefore struggle to solve word problems.
They may also struggle to process information presented in a visual form.
6) Develop their working memory: Working memory refers to your child’s ability to retain and manipulate the information that they need to successfully complete a task.
Preschoolers with poor working memory have a difficult time planning, organizing and successfully completing daily tasks and chores. They will forget what they were in the process of doing or will have to be repeatedly reminded instructions. These kids struggle with “step-by-step” directions and often have to be reminded what they are expected to do next.
7) Strengthen their attention skills: Different types of attention enable preschoolers to undertake tasks appropriately. Selective attention refers to their ability to filter out information and focus on something specific for a given period of time.
Divided attention refers to the brain’s ability to focus on different stimuli at the same time. In other words, divided attention enables your child to process more than one piece of information at the same time.
Sustained attention refers to the ability to focus over an extended period of time.
Preschoolers with poor cognitive skills struggle with focus and attention issues. They will only partially complete tasks and chores, they will become easily distracted and they will have a difficult time following multiple instructions.
Developing cognitive skills in preschoolers
Cognitive skills have a huge impact on how preschoolers behave and process information. The good news is that many simple activities at home can help your child develop or strengthen their cognitive abilities.
There are probably several things that you already do that help in your child’s cognitive development. Many activities and games that they engage in also help them develop their cognitive abilities.
Here are five activities that you can do (or should continue doing) to help develop your preschoolers’ cognitive skills.
Five cognitive development activities for preschoolers
Reading is one of the easiest activities that can help strengthen preschoolers’ cognitive development. It not only teaches them new words, it can also help them to acquire important skills such as paying attention, problem solving, reasoning, holding information in mind, and so on.
To strengthen your child’s cognitive skills, it is important to choose books that allow them to develop these skills.
Examples of good books for preschoolers include: Frog and Toad Storybook Favorites, Just How Long Can a Long String Be?! Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Round Like a Ball, Not a Box, Not a stick, Duck! Rabbit!
A subscription box such as the award-winning Book Roo can also help you choose appropriate books for your preschooler. The books they receive every month are carefully selected to ensure that they are attractive and age-appropriate for your child.
2) Encourage your child to play a musical instrument
Playing music is an effective and easy way to develop your preschooler’s cognitive abilities. It can help them develop their coordination and strengthen their auditory processing.
Any instrument that requires your child’s manipulation such as pianos or drums are good for them.
3) Listening to music is a great cognitive development activity for preschoolers
Your child already probably listens to music. They probably already know several sing-along songs that you all enjoy as a family. Music is great for reinforcing their cognitive abilities.
As they get older, you can use music in different ways to help improve their cognitive skills. For instance, playing games like “musical chairs” can help them learn to focus and to work on their processing speed.
You can also play slow songs – and ask them to dance slowly -, then interchange with quick songs to which they have to dance quickly. Even better, ask your preschooler to do the opposite – danse slowly to quick songs and quickly to slow songs!
4) Privilege games that foster preschoolers’ cognitive development
Games such as “Simon says” are great for developing your child’s cognitive skills, and there are many other games that can help develop these skills in preschoolers.
Remember that young children learn primarily through play. To get the most out of games, it is important to encourage different types of games and activities to help them work their brains in different ways.
Here are several ideas of age-appropriate games that can help preschoolers cognitive development:
Board games: Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game; Baby Dinosaur Rescue Board Game!, Go Away Monster; My First Castle Panic
Games that help your child work on their visual perception skills: Where’s Waldo? Richard Scarry’s Busytown Eye Found It!
Games that teach concentration: Puzzles
Games that encourage creativity and teach other skills: Tegu Magnetic wooden blocks, Pressman Charades for Kids; Gears! Gears! Gears!, Magna-Tiles
Games that encourage your child to keep active: Eezy Peezy Climbing Frame.
Free play is also an important part of growing up that helps children learn, grow, and develop cognitive abilities.
5) Craft activities can promote the development of cognitive skills in preschoolers
Encouraging your child to participate in art and craft activities is an easy way to help them work on their imagination and creative skills while strengthening their cognitive development. A “creativity box” filled with art and craft objects and placed within reach is an easy way to get your child interested in craft activities.
A craft subscription box is another easy way to promote your child’s interest in craft activities. Every month, they can receive their box filled with fun age-appropriate objects that they can use to unleash their creativity!
There are so many different and effective cognitive development activities for preschoolers. Ensuring that your child is gets to participate in multiple and varied activities is an easy way to ensure that they work their brain in different ways.
 Risk factors affecting child cognitive development
 Brain development of very preterm and very low-birthweight children in childhood and adolescence: a meta-analysis
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