Cognitive development is by far the most important development in a child during the childhood years. It is important for every parent, caretaker and early childhood educator to know about the cognitive development milestones in early childhood, especially between the ages 3 to 6, as this is a phase when the child also picks up language skills apart from cognitive skills.
In this article:
- Cognitive development milestones in children aged 3 to 4, 4 to 5 and 5 to 6 years.
- Developmentally appropriate practices for cognitive development for the aforesaid age group.
Cognitive Development Milestones for 3 to 4 Year Olds
The following are some of the cognitive development milestones for 3 year olds, up to 4 years:
- Will test their skills on various things and may often repeat the activity the like
- Can recognize and identify familiar colors and basic shapes
- Spend a lot of time on certain tasks they choose on their own
- Counting becomes relatively more precise than earlier
- Can distinguish and understand concepts like: same and different, heavy and light, more and less, etc.
- Are very curious and love to explore, inspect and dismantle things apart
- The sense of curiosity often leads to experimenting things with cause-and-effect
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Cognitive Development for 3 to 4 Year Olds
The following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 3 year olds, up to 4 years.
- Provide them with as many play items and learning materials that come apart and can be fixed again, like building blocks and puzzles, they help in stimulating a sense of exploration and investigation
- Allocate a time for them for independent activity every day
- Provide them with simple things to give ample opportunities for counting
- Incorporate counting words naturally into everyday conversations
- Give them various activities involving matching, identification, sorting, etc.
- Be creative in offering them with a wide range of learning materials and experiences
Cognitive Development Milestones for 4 to 5 Year Olds
The following are some of the cognitive development milestones for 4 year olds, up to 5 years.
- More interested in play and activities that involves using their hands and making use of tools
- Enhanced ability to figure out how things can be dismantled, fit together and how to make it work
- Can sort out simple solutions to any challenge they encounter while playing or during activities
- The concept of numbers, size and weight are more clearly understood during this phase of childhood
- Can identify and name colours, shapes and sizes and their related concepts
- The ability to carry forward topics of study or project from one day to the next is easier at this age
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Cognitive Development for 4 to 5 Year Olds
The following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 4 year olds, up to 5 years.
- Encourage them to use number and quantity in real-life situations such as measuring water, distributing toffees or dividing a cake
- Plan regularly for various activities involving classification and sorting, with more complexity
- Involve them into small activities that engages children’s thinking
- Encourage them to think of various alternatives to solve everyday situations
- Introduce them to simple tools like gardening tools and similar items
Cognitive Development Milestones for 5 to 6 Year Olds
The following are some of the cognitive development milestones for 5 year olds, up to 6 years.
- The formation of concept is gradually becoming more refined and precise during this phase
- Skills to plan ahead and engage in activities with a result or end in mind are developing fast
- Observation skills are getting better
- Enjoy activities that involve hands-on exploration
Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Cognitive Development for 5 to 6 Year Olds
The following are some developmentally appropriate practices for 5 year olds, up to 6 years.
- Provide a stimulating environment with adequate time and space for science experiences
- Allow them to revisit or review their work and ask them questions about their work
- Involve them in brainstorming sessions for a class project you saw them keen involved
- Teach them concepts by incorporating everyday activities including number concepts of addition and subtraction, or time concept of day and night, before and after, etc.
For children to make the most of the cognitive development milestones in early childhood years, it is important that parents, caregivers and educators facilitate and execute the developmentally appropriate activities discussed above.
In other words, how well the cognitive and language development happens in a child entirely hinges on the facilitation and execution of the developmentally appropriate activities.
Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.