Development of Cognitive Skills in Children: A Walk through the Basics

Cognitive skills develop rapidly in the first few years of infant life and thereafter, children develop on them progressively throughout their school. With this article, we would tell you the basics of cognitive skills development in children and its primary areas. So, without any ado, let’s get started with it.

What Are Cognitive Skills?

Development of cognitive skills involves a progressive building of learning skills in children like attending, memory and thinking. These skills enable them process the sensory information that they come across and gradually learn to evaluate, analyze, memorize, contrast and understand the cause and effect scenarios. Although a fraction of cognitive skill development depends upon a child's genetic makeup too, most cognitive skills are learned only. This implies that thinking and learning skills can be enhanced with regular practice and right guidance.

The Primary Areas of Cognitive Skill Development

  • Attention
Paying attention is crucial for a child to concentrate or continue a conversation for an extended period of time. Learning to attend is indeed an important cognitive skill as it acts as a foundation to future learning endeavors. Children less than 5 years of age have short attention spans, typically about 15 minutes or less. With increasing age, they start developing longer attention periods.

Parents, educators or guardians can help children develop this ability by specifically pointing out things that are important or seem interesting and then asking the child to give their comments on their observations.

  • Memory
Memory is perhaps the most important cognitive skill that helps a child retain what he has learned, perceived or experienced and develop a future knowledge base. Children less than five years of age have difficulty with memory retention. But, as a child grows, his memory increases and allows him to gradually build on his previous knowledge.

A useful technique to make children memorize difficult things is by teaching them in a rhyme format or catchy sayings.

  • Thinking
The skill of thinking helps children assess their own ability to reason out a task and look for solutions. This helps them become more aware of their thinking process, to know whether they are performing to their best level or whether they should seek for some expert help. For instance, when a child reads a story, thinking skills allow him to determine whether he is able to grasp the content in one go or whether he needs to go over it again and look for additional clues or study any given images.