As parents, we want to do everything we can to help our children grow and thrive, and provide them with a solid foundation for success in school and beyond. This is why it’s so important that we support toddlers’ cognitive development during these early years. In this post, we will discuss the importance of cognitive development during the toddler years.
Cognitive development refers to our ability to process information and learn about the world through thoughts, experiences and the people around us. Cognitive development begins as early as birth, as babies explore their surroundings through all five of their senses. These experiences help gather information, learn, and remember all of the things they take in, leading to cognitive growth.
It’s essential that parents provide their little ones with plenty of opportunities for cognitive development. Here are eight tips to help you support your toddler’s cognitive development.
Have conversations and ask open-ended questions
One of the best ways to support cognitive development during the toddler years is to engage them in frequent conversation. When young children are exposed to language at an early age, it helps them learn how to process language and build vocabulary. Use simple words and ask open-ended questions when you talk to your toddler. This will go a long way when it comes to boosting language skills and comprehension.
For example, instead of asking, “Do you want a banana?” ask your child, “What’s your favorite fruit?” or, “What type of fruit would you like to eat?” When you’re enjoying activities together, you might ask your little one, “What do you like about puzzles?”
Reading to your child from an early age is another great way to enrich cognitive development. Through books, children are introduced to a variety of concepts, such as cause and effect relationships, size comparisons, shapes, and colors. They’ll begin to understand that certain words have specific meanings, and they’ll begin to grasp various sounds and letter combinations, which are essential cognitive building blocks and children learn and grow.
Encourage pretend play
When toddlers engage in pretend play, it can enhance cognitive development as they exercise their creativity and imagination skills. Children’s cognitive abilities expand as they role-play characters and begin to understand other perspectives too.
For example, you might pretend that your toddler is a doctor, and you could be the patient. These types of activities provide opportunities for little ones to utilize cognitive skills like sequencing (the order in which things happen) and problem-solving skills.
Sing songs together
Music brings numerous cognitive benefits for toddlers. Singing songs together encourages them to listen and understand the meanings of words and phrases while building their vocabulary. For example, if you’re singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, your toddler might gain an understanding of what the word “twinkle” means, and it provides an opportunity to point out stars in the sky. Singing also boosts emotional intelligence by discussing different feelings.
Play with toys that stimulate cognitive development
There are many different toys that can help support cognitive development in toddlers. These kinds of toys include puzzles, blocks, or stacking rings. They give children something a task to accomplish independently while they practice using their creativity and imagination. With each completed task, they’ll be honing a variety of cognitive skills, like problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
Let kids solve problems independently
As much as we may be tempted to do everything for our children, cognitive development in toddlers takes place when we allow them to solve problems independently. Instead of rushing to complete a task for them, step back and watch as young children work out how to access a toy that’s just out of reach, or figure out how to get out of a spot in which they’re stuck. Encouraging and praising is also helpful.
Let children play and explore on their own
Allowing toddlers to explore by themselves provides cognitive benefits as well as independent building exercises. Self-exploration encourages cognitive growth by developing problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and creativity.
Allow your child to enjoy opportunities for independent play without too many toys within reach. Let them think creatively and absorb information through touch, smell, sight, and sounds.
Supporting your toddler’s cognitive development is one of our priorities here at Akers Academy. The students in our Toddlers Program are energetic, fascinated by the world around them, and always on the go! Children at this age are learning about their world through all five of their senses, and rely on self discovery to recognize unique boundaries and independence. Contact us and learn why we’re the best fit for your little one!