As with children of any age, 3-year-olds learn best through play. Pretend play is especially beneficial at this age because 3-year-olds are beginning to become more skilled at make-believe. Children learn about their world and how things work through pretend play, fostering a strong foundation of cognitive development.
DEFINITION OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Cognitive development is the development of knowledge, skills, and problem solving. This influences how children think and figure things out. Brain development, including executive functioning, is a part of cognitive development as well. 3-year-olds are still very literal in their way of thinking, but also are becoming better at pretend play, which is why they are able to learn so well through play.
3-YEAR-OLD COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Remembers parts of a story
- Names familiar colors
- Better understands time (morning, afternoon, night)
- Understands the concept of “two”
- Thinks about things in very concrete terms
- Struggles to see things from others’ perspectives
- Begins to think symbolically
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
Cognitive development is so important to your child’s overall development, which is why it is essential that you support that development through play.
Although it is important to keep board games that you play with your 3-year-old very simple, they are very beneficial to their cognitive development. Board games give children a chance to make choices, practice counting, and practice skills such as matching.
STACKING AND BUILDING GAMES
Building towers with your preschooler is a great opportunity to practice skills such as counting, one-to-one correspondence, and predicting cause and effect. One way that you can do this is by making building with your preschooler even more fun by making it a game. Take turns rolling a dice and adding the number of blocks that the dice shows. Continue this until the towers are too tall and one falls.
Reading to young children is a great way to foster development in all developmental domains. Not only do preschoolers observe essential speech and language skills being modeled when being read to, but they are also exposed to knowledge about how the world works. Listening to stories helps children see things from different perspectives and see how others solve problems.
3-year-olds are at the stage of development where their pretend play is just starting to blossom. They love to have tea parties and play house. Most of their pretend play is based on their own real life experiences, which gives them a chance to practice problem solving and critical thinking skills in their play before putting them to real use.
You can help your child meet their cognitive development milestones by providing them with meaningful play experiences both independently and with their peers. Children learn best through play, and also through hands-on experiences with the world around them to learn how things work and how to problem solve.
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