The first few years of a child’s life is critical to their overall development, so that’s why many parents are concerned with making sure their child develops the cognitive abilities they need early on.

We spoke with Heather Grocott of The Children’s Workshop for the following reasons why cognitive development is so important:

If you have a child under the age of 3, you may not realize that your child’s brain is making 700 to 1,00 neural connections every second!

As we get older, our brain’s ability to adapt to change reduces, making the first few years of a child’s life critical to their overall development and success in the future.

As parents, it is essential we think about not “what” children think or learn, but how they are thinking and learning.Why is Cognitive Development important?

  • Cognitive development provides children with the means of paying attention to thinking about the world around them.
  • Everyday experiences can impact a child’s cognitive development.
  • Cognitive development encompasses a child’s working memory, attention, as well as a child’s ability to manage and respond to the experiences and information they experience on a daily basis.
  • Cognitive development can be compared to a child’s air traffic control tower – taking in information and processing it on a daily basis with intent and purpose.

What skills fall under “cognitive development?

  • Logic and reasoning
  • Memory and working memory
  • Attention
  • Control
  • Flexibility, ability to adapt
  • Evaluation and analyzing skills
  • Ability to make comparisons
  • Explore and understand cause and effect
  • Critical thinking, higher level thinking

How can I support my child’s cognitive development?

  • Help children to keep focused and attentive by limiting distractions and interruptions.
  • Express interest in your child’s activities and try to observe and reflect on what you believe they are trying to accomplish.
  • Spark curiosity by offering materials in new ways
  • Spark curiosity by noticing things and suggesting, “Let’s go see what would happen if?”
  • Offer materials that are challenging enough to be interesting but not impossible
  • Share the joy children feel as they show you their accomplishments.
  • Help children develop memories by keeping the routine and room arrangement predictable; keep toys where children know to find them
  • Talk with children about what they did earlier in the day or the day before.
  • Provide many opportunities to categorize, match, sort, compare, and contrast with toys and activities.
  • Encourage problem solving