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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Children's Cognitive Development - Training School-age Children for Better Cognition

By Andrew Loh

Cognitive development of children is a special subject of study in child developmental psychology. It refers to an area of child psychology that deals with thinking and its process. Cognition also deals with many aspects like how children gain knowledge, store and later modify it to use at an advanced level. Similarly, a challenging area of cognitive study is why and how one child differs from the other in cognitive processes. Likewise, cognitive processes also vary and change with children's age and developmental processes.

Cognition development process usually varies with age and physiological processes. Young infants and babies are capable of some elementary form of cognition like imitation and basic actions. Some sort of memory functions are also noticed in them. In fact, newborn baby and toddlers aged 6 months can recognize mother's voice and some bits of spoken language. The entire process of development of cognition takes place throughout young children early life and through their adulthood.

Some of the important cognitive functions that get streamlined are as follows:

  • Perception

  • Attention

  • Conceptualization

  • Solving simple and complex problems

  • Reasoning

  • Symbolic gestures and their processes

  • Thinking

The mechanism of cognitive developmental processes

The entire process relates to information processing. Information processing is analogous to the functioning of a computer. A child perceives and receives raw information from the environment in which it lives. Information is received through one of senses. The received information is sent to a working memory storage area that is temporary in nature and the received information is retained only for some time. From here, the information is dispatched to a long term memory storage area for storage. From here, the working memory can receive information as and when it needed.

Here, both perception and attention signify information input. In humans, all memory processes involve one of the memory types: short term working memory or long term memory.

Working memory may involve the following processes:

  • Conception of ideas

  • Solving roblems

  • Reasoning

  • Symbolic processes

Older children are more refined in creating conception of ideas, solving problems, reasoning and finding solution for problems. An older child would automatically process and receive information in a much better way. Automatic processing of data is always good although it can interfere with a specific task at times. This effect is often referred to as automatization and it poses a big challenge to some children.


Confusion is common when learning multiplication after summation. Experts cite this as intrusion errors. Let us assume that a child learns how to sum two primary digits, 2 and 5. When asked to multiply 2 and 5, many children get confused between summation and multiplication and commit errors of assuming that 2x5 as 2+5. Hence, they add 2 and 5 instead multiplying them, 2 x 5=10. Most of the real life processes involve combination of many processes that are cognitive in nature. All of them are joined together to arrive at a suitable solution that in turn provide the best possible solution.

Many significant milestones mark the arrival of cognitive learning in children. Some of them are as follows:

< 6 years old

  • Improving vocabulary (2000 words)

  • Composition of simple sentences

  • Counting up to 10 objects at a single time

  • Identifying right from left

  • Basic reasoning and argue based on facts

  • Learning why and how of things

  • Basic categorization of objects and things

  • Identifying days

  • Identifying shapes and patterns

  • Basic focusing and rudimentary concentration

  • Learning to follow basic instructions

7 to 8 years old

  • Longer attention and focusing spans

  • Become a team player

  • Understand somewhat advanced concepts

  • Understand advanced math and science concepts

  • Identify time and date

  • Read and write on own

  • Advanced categorization of objects and shapes

Cognition is very important for a growing child. Without proper cognition, they cannot perform well in their classroom and societal life. Cognition is very critical for preparing young children for immense challenges ahead. Difficult subjects like math, reading and writing, solving problems, science, critical thinking is all possible only with better cognitive skills and techniques. When a child is trained for better cognition in its early age, it is possible to empower with necessary skills to succeed in life. Solving problems, deciphering senses, thinking critically and honing professional skills lie speaking in public are possible only when the child is equipped with advanced skills of cognition that too in an early age. You may be also interested to read Parental Techniques to Teach Cognitive Processes to School-going Children.


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