It’s unbelievable what our brains can do. This fascinating, complex system makes our world go round (literally!) and opens up so many possibilities for human life. Our brains are constantly working so fast to make every thought and every movement happen. Cognitive skills training- from birth through formative childhood years- is crucial to our human development. Kids must develop these mental processes our brains use to learn and think, collaborate and create, memorize and recall information. And many adults know that the learning doesn’t stop there- adults are still figuring out new things as they go through life. Let’s check out five facts to ponder about our incredible brains and their cognitive capabilities from a young age.
Welcome to the World
Infants are in the Sensorimotor Stage of cognitive development from birth until about 2 years of age. At this point, children experience their surroundings through their five senses and movement, using simple reflexes like wiggling their toes or staring at their surroundings. In their first few years of life, children are egocentric, which means they mostly act from what they want and need, as they can’t grasp other points of view. Later on in this stage, children become more aware of the things around them, reaching for different objects, voicing their thoughts with a limited vocabulary, and learning about the world around them through exploration. Think of how happy a child is upon taking his or her first steps- it’s an exciting moment that allows them to see more of their little world.
Cognitive skills training is most important in early childhood- that’s why young children need a good home and school environment they can thrive in. Children ages 2 to 7 are in the Preoperational Stage of cognitive development,where kids cannot yet grasp concrete logic the way adults can. Every parent can recall a time their child wanted to do something so badly but couldn’t comprehend the reasons why it wasn’t a very good idea! Think of the “terrible twos” tantrums- children are not yet thinking logically about the boundaries and reasons why they can’t behave in a certain way. But they are on the right track- especially when they start to engage in ‘play’ behavior, pretending and using their imagination in social settings like school.
Children in the Preoperational Stage begin to encounter and engage with more complex social scenarios, opening their eyes to a whole new world. They will eventually learn to explain why they do not like something or someone- a fact many parents can agree with and often hear about! Toddlers will use symbols, images and photographs to represent the world around them. Next up is the intuitive thought substage from age 4 to 7, where kids become very curious and comfortable asking may questions- even if parents, teachers or caregivers don’t have the right answers!
A cognitive skills assessment test will show that the third stage- concrete operational- allows children ages 7 to 11 to transition to a less egocentric outlook on life and understand logic. They become more sociocentric and aware of social relationships and conversations happening around them, which helps them form bonds and friendships. They will become familiar with topics that were once foreign to them and much more capable of classifying objects and people into categories and groups. These are skills they will use in the future, and that’s why elementary school teachers play such an important role in the development of our children at this crucial part of their lives.
In the final stage- Formal Operational- kids 11 to 16 years (or even older!) are easily remembering information, thinking logically and applying their abstract reasoning skills to solve complex problems. Diverse life experiences help children develop their self-regulatory and self-reflective skills in and out of the classroom, preparing them for adulthood that’s just down the road! Cognitive skills training is so vital for every single child, as it helps them adjust to the world around them and develop into a functional, logical adult.