How to develop your child's cognitive skills

Written by rachel reeves
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How to develop your child's cognitive skills
For young children, most cognitive skills are learnt through activities, play or a child's own exploration. (Rayes/Lifesize/Getty Images)

If your children's cognitive skills are developed correctly while they are young, they can quickly learn how to solve problems effectively. Parents can have an enormous impact on their children's cognitive development, by spending time with them and creating activities that challenge them. Remember, the steps used to get to the solution are as important as the solution itself, which is why making sure your child gets the right mix of games, activities and challenges is so important.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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  1. 1

    Spend time with your child. Children whose parents are too involved with their own lives to play or encourage them will grow up to be adults who find it difficult to solve problems or make decisions.

  2. 2

    Listen to your child. Even the youngest children, just learning to talk, like to be listened to. If you really hear what your child is saying, you can learn a lot about the activities you should concentrate on to develop your child's cognitive skills. Plus, children who are listened to and treated as though they have something valid to say often grow up to be self-confident adults.

  3. 3

    Plan discovery-related activities for your children. Most towns have museums, art galleries, children's playgrounds and zoos -- places where your children will be stimulated to ask questions or be involved in challenging situations. Try to find places with hands-on activities, as these teach children to be engaged and curious.

  4. 4

    Work on categorising and comparing activities with your children. Ask them to put the blue buttons in one container and the red ones in another. Tell them to find three things in the room that are square and four that are round. Get them to compare lengths and widths of different objects. Categorising helps them see patterns and be able to compare one thing with another. This skill is vital when it comes to comparing one possible solution for a problem to another.

  5. 5

    Read to your children every day -- even if it's only five minutes at bedtime. Children who are frequently read to from an early age often have more developed cognitive skills, a larger vocabulary and find it easier to learn to read themselves.

  6. 6

    Ask your children questions. They will learn to think about the solutions to problems, as well as develop higher levels of self-confidence when they realise they can. Should we buy tomatoes or mushroom soup for dinner? How many books will fit in that box -- five or six? What may be a mundane question to you can be a delight to your children, particularly if they feel they are being included in decision-making.

  7. 7

    Encourage your child to keep trying, even when the solution is a challenge. Resist the urge to come up with the answer yourself. Remember, your goal is to help your children figure things out for themselves and not to find the quickest solution.

Tips and warnings

  • Encourage your children to explore. Just make sure they stay safe while they're doing so.

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