Promoting your child’s cognitive development helps her to reach milestones that enable academic success. Cognitive skills include abilities such as critical thinking, problem solving, imagination and language. Parents can wield a positive influence on their child’s cognitive development through play and activities that help their child to consider her environment in new ways, according to the National Association of School Psychologists.
1. Promote Critical Thinking Skills
When your child acquires critical thinking skills, she learns how to think by utilizing analysis and logic, reports Scholastic. You don’t need special educational resources or supplies to help your child build critical thinking skills. Everyday activities provide ample opportunities to practice these skills. For example, a trip to the grocery store represents a stellar opportunity for your child to categorize and classify. Encourage your child to sort red and yellow vegetables in the produce department or white and wheat bread in the bakery aisle. Additional activities to build critical thinking skills include searching for patterns and presenting questions that support creative thinking.
2. Make Time for Play
Don’t fret if your little one prefers playing to learning her ABCs. Your child’s penchant for play helps to ensure her academic success, reports the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Making time for pretend play supports academic achievement, language and literacy skills. The uninhibited context of pretend play nurtures cognitive development as children explore new roles, design play themes and solve problems. You can enrich your child’s play experiences by praising her creativity, and discussing possibilities for new play themes.
3. Encourage Your Child to Communicate
It doesn’t matter whether your child is an introvert or loves to share every detail of her busy day. Encourage her to talk, question and laugh about daily activities. Your child’s daily routine is full of activities that can open new opportunities for making decisions and expressing opinions. For example, ask for your child’s input regarding a family activity or a menu. Solicit her opinion about the conclusion of a new book or video. If your child did not like the conclusion, ask her to create a more pleasing ending, and praise her efforts.
4. Make Reading a Priority in Your Home
Parents support their child’s cognitive development by emphasizing the value of printed materials in the home, reports the American Academy of Pediatrics. Reading aloud to your child supports future academic success, and increases the likelihood that she will love to read. Your child observes how much you value reading when she sees you enjoying and sharing books, newspapers, magazines and even sales circulars from your favorite stores. Demonstrate that printed materials enrich your everyday life.
- National Association of School Psychologists: School Readiness -- Preparing Children for Kindergarten and Beyond: Information for Parents
- Scholastic: Think About It: Critical Thinking
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Ready or Not...Preparing Young Children for the Classroom
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Play
- Scholastic: 10 Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learn
- Healthy Children: Using Their Words: Helping Preschoolers Get a Good Start in Reading and Writing
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