Cognitive development of your child

The cognitive development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers and schoolchildren includes everything in the field of memory and learning: language development, consciousness, perception, etc. How does the child develop and how can you stimulate cognitive development?

What is cognitive development?

Cognitive development is a nice word for intellectual development. Intellectual development consists of perception and processing, thinking, consciousness, attention and concentration, language perception and language production, processing knowledge and general memory. Cognitive development therefore takes place in the brain.

A cognitive disorder is a disruption of one or more cognitive functions. This could be, for example, delayed language development, memory loss, concentration disorder, etc. Most disorders fall under developmental disorders. A well-known cognitive disorder in adults is dementia.

How does a child develop?

Cognitive development in children is not the same for every child. Sometimes it can be seen that development is taking place more rapidly in one area than in another. For example, language comprehension, understanding and processing spoken language, may already be sufficiently developed, while speech lags behind. Perception can also be sufficiently present, while consciousness lags behind. On average, cognitive development is the same for all children. Small deviations are accepted.

0-3 months old

During the first month of life there is no real development. The baby responds based on his needs. The baby can respond to situations through reflexes. The baby learns through these reflexes. At three months the baby can repeat these movements. A well-known example is lifting the head as a reflex. The baby notices that this gives him a better view of the world. This teaches him to lift his head more often. A music mobile above the playpen encourages the baby to turn its head to the sound by catching and following the mobile with its eyes.

By talking to the baby, he knows that someone is near him and something is going to happen: a bath, a feeding or a clean diaper. The baby learns that language will bring him something. At three months, the baby consciously looks in the direction of someone who is talking to him.

4-6 months

A baby now learns to recognize the difference between cause and effect. A cause always has an effect. The baby has learned that crying gets him something: someone comes to watch. The child also learns that rattling or hitting a toy produces sound. Language development is now starting to get underway: baby will produce sounds and mainly form consonants. Fun toys are rattles, squeaky animals, moving and sound-producing toys, where it is especially important that this sound or movement is created when the baby does something with it.

7-9 months

The baby can play purposefully: he knows that an action has a consequence. Throwing a toy on the floor will result in mom or dad picking it up. Baby can repeat this endlessly. These actions are no longer based on chance but are devised by the baby itself. Abstract thinking now also arises: this way the baby realizes that what is not there can still be there. Putting a toy away under a cloth means that the toy has been lost, but is still there. By playing these games, the child learns to think abstractly.

Language develops because baby has conversations: when mom or dad talks, baby is quiet and listens. He absorbs the spoken language and tries to process it. When mom or dad has finished talking, baby babbles back. This is how the first conversations arise, which are important for later communication skills.

10-12 months

Some babies say their first word. This happens very unconsciously, because baby combines continuous vowels with consonants. When baby accidentally says mom or dad and his parents become overjoyed, the baby is rewarded. he learns that certain sounds elicit a good response from others. As a result, baby will form these sounds more and more often. During this period, baby also learns that there is a clear difference between his parents or caregivers and a stranger. Baby learns that his parents or caregivers can temporarily leave the room and return. Fun games are the peek-a-boo games. Reading from a book is something that baby can enjoy listening to. It trains his concentration and teaches baby to recognize words.

1-2 years

Language development is now faster than in the first year: the child will increasingly make connections between objects and words. He learns what a cow is, a dog, a car, a tree, a house, etc. Every object or person has a name. This is called language comprehension: understanding the language. The child will later also understand short sentences: ‘we are going outside’ or ‘do you want a drink?’ are concepts that the child recognizes and understands. The child will try to repeat simple words. Words without a final consonant are often chosen at the beginning: ‘ba, boo, da, mama, papa, no, ja’. Later words such as ‘woof, koek, jacket, make’ follow. Around the age of two, the child can speak in two- to three-word sentences: ‘I don’t sleep’ or ‘I drink’.

The child learns to think logically and solve problems. If a block cannot pass through an opening in a certain way, the child will turn it until the block finds its way through. This teaches the child that there is a solution to a problem. Give the child plenty of materials to build.

2-4 years

Toddlers can go to the playgroup from the age of 2. It is advisable to do this as well: it stimulates the cognitive development of toddlers. Language comprehension, but also vocabulary, is increasing. Toddlers learn to talk in three to five word sentences during this period. They do not yet use all prepositions on articles correctly, and the sentences can also seem somewhat distorted. By good example they learn: do not correct the child but repeat his sentence in the correct words. ‘I don’t poop pants’. “No, I didn’t poop in my pants!”. Reading books with many pictures encourage the child to adopt a correct listening attitude and to imitate the language.

Toddlers learn to lie. This is not a sign of not wanting to listen, but of discovering the power over language. By lying, the child can avoid an event. Have you done this? I have not done that! The child learns that a naughty action will result in punishment or scolding. He tries to avoid this by lying about it. Rewarding an honest answer encourages the child to be honest about his actions later. The toddler also learns to use his imagination. A block becomes a car, a ball becomes an elephant. Do not correct the child in this. Fantasy gives the child the opportunity to empathize with a situation.

Not all toddlers are able to connect cause and effect. Drawing with a marker on the wall makes mom or dad angry. Still, the pleasure of drawing on the wall provides enough incentive to continue with it, without realizing that this is not allowed. Also, some toddlers still don’t realize that running away is not allowed: mom or dad can get quite worried. However, going on an adventure does not outweigh the tears or angry words that will follow later. By going out together and letting the toddler loose in the playground, the toddler learns to see his limits. Reward the toddler when he looks towards mom/dad by laughing, waving or offering a treat. Don’t be angry if the child runs away: sometimes he or she cannot yet sufficiently empathize with other people’s feelings.

Preschoolers go through a lot of cognitive development when they enter kindergarten. Here they learn to master the language, gain insight and solve problems. Memory is trained through games. Preschoolers often understand very well that they can cause someone sadness or pain. They love role-playing games: where they play the role of, for example, a knight or princess. They often give their stuffed animals a voice, where they have entire conversations with their stuffed animals. Concentration is improving, but is not yet developed enough to stay focused for long.

5-12 years

During this period, concentration continues to improve. From the age of six the child learns to read and write. Observing and processing is important here. If this is not sufficiently developed, it will not be possible to read, write, do arithmetic, etc. The imagination continues to expand. Sometimes the child can take this so far that an imaginary friend is created. As long as this is only temporary and the child does not withdraw from social contacts, this cannot do any harm. Sometimes the child, often with a friend, has an imaginary pet such as a horse or a dog, but he or she can also imagine that he or she has a car or something else. The child learns to imagine what it is like to own something.

Language development lasts until about seven years of age: this lays the foundation. The child will then learn new words, but the foundation for communication skills and understanding language happens before this age. As the child gets older, learning also slows down: in the first seven years the child has learned much more than he will ever learn again. From the age of five, the child speaks in five to seven-word sentences and uses all prepositions and articles correctly. Sometimes language development slows down somewhat: as a result, a seven-year-old may have difficulty with the language and lag behind his peers. This is often reflected in learning: it is much slower. This can also change behavior.

Social contact is very important during this period, with names with peers. The child builds friendships and learns to work together. This stimulates the entire thinking process. It needs no other explanation that cognitive development is closely related to social-emotional development.

At the bottom of this article you will find some language exercises that are suitable for children from the age of two who have difficulty with pronunciation.

read more

    • Speech therapy: one syllable words (CVC)
    • Speech therapy: object and verb
    • Speech therapy: exchange two sounds
    • Speech therapy: feedback of sentences
    • Speech therapy: making transitions

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