A child’s mind is pretty amazing. The brain starts growing in the womb and continues to grow and change as the child develops the capability for complex thoughts. The young mind is curious and probing as it tries to make sense of everything around the child. This is what’s known as cognitive development.
Cognitive skills are increased when young minds pose questions and then find fitting solutions themselves or with the guidance of another person. Questioning, discovering, reflecting, evaluating, and solving are all key to children becoming lifelong learners. The journey to the answer is just as important as the answer itself.
Your Role in their Cognitive Development
As a parent, it’s your role to promote and not hinder the development of strong thinking and learning skills. From providing the best food for brain growth to supporting cognitive growth in toddlers, you should do your part in encouraging the process.
How do you accomplish this?
1. Value their thoughts and questions.
Pay attention to their questions and take them seriously. You help build up their self-esteem and teach them to face challenges with a confident attitude.
2. Encourage independent thought.
Provide opportunities wherein your children can exercise different mental functions. Let them think for themselves, analyze puzzles, and conceive original ideas. Show interest and respect for their thoughts.
3. Stimulate their sense of wonder and curiosity.
Ditch your blasé attitude and try to see things from your children’s perspective. Everything is so much more fascinating. Feed their curiosity by displaying fascination in what things are and how they work, no matter how seemingly trivial.
4. Offer opportunities to explore.
Take them to different places and put them in various situations that provide first-hand experiences or encounters that elicit knowledge acquisition.
Toddler Cognitive Activities
Different cognitive skills are developed in the toddler stage. You can promote active learning and hone memory, attention, concentration, and perception by using the following.
Music is always a great learning tool. You and your kids can sing along to the iPod or to music videos. You will eventually hear them singing the songs by themselves. Singing songs helps develop language skills and memory.
The Alphabet Song is bound to be one of the first songs your children will learn. You can expound on that by coming up with complementary games and activities such as letter flash cards, letter hunting, alphabet peg puzzles, etc. These will make learning the letters easier and more fun for your children.
Learn counting songs and find opportunities to practice counting. You can also do complementary activities similar to the ones that promote learning the letters. Number flash cards, number hunting, and number peg puzzles also work.
From animals to machines, you can teach your children to identify the noises they hear. This will help them associate sounds with the concrete objects they pertain to. You can try to imitate the sounds with your voice and get your kids to do the same.
5. Shapes and Colors
These are two of the concepts that kids learn first. You can teach them to identify shapes and colors just by pointing out everyday objects with their corresponding shape and color descriptions. Eventually, they will be able to do the same for you.
As your children begin to strive for more independence and control, you can start offering choices, from their outfit of the day to the snack they will eat. This will help build up their confidence and sharpen their decision-making skills.
Of course, you should listen to your children’s questions and answer accordingly. At the same time, you should also stimulate and challenge their young minds by posing your own questions. This encourages them to think, working out answers and coming up with solutions.
There are lots of educational toys that promote learning, but everyday objects also work well not only in aiding cognitive development, but in entertaining them as well. Your children’s instinct is to play, which happens to be their primary way of learning.
Your role is to be a willing playmate when they want one. There are times when they’ll prefer solitary play, in which case, you step back and simply be a spectator.
You don’t have to take them on expensive trips. Let them see new places, even if it’s just the creek behind your house or the local supermarket. Under your watchful eye, let them explore and have an adventure.
Let them have novel experiences. So many things are new to them, so they’re learning from each one. The opportunities for new experiences are endless. It’s up to you to figure out what the possibilities are and if they’d be appropriate for your kids.
Brain Growth and Development
The toddler years are a critical period for brain growth. Nutrition and appropriate activities will help the process along. However, young minds are like sponges and will usually learn whether you intentionally support it or not. It’s your part, however, to optimize this process of cognitive development.