Young children are always working on developing new skills and acquiring knowledge. When thinking about whether or not they are on track with their developmental milestones, it is important to keep in mind that all children develop at their own pace even though they do follow the same developmental path. Also, children tend to focus on one area of learning at a time, which is why cognitive milestones for your 4-year-old will not necessarily be met at the same time as their peers.
DEFINITION OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT
Cognitive development is the way in which young children explore the world around them to examine how things work. They learn how to think for themselves, problem solve, and think critically. Children develop these skills best through real life hands-on experiences and also through play.
4-YEAR-OLD COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT MILESTONES
- Understands the idea of counting
- Starts to understand time and the order of daily activities
- Makes predictions about what will happen in a story
- Understands the concept of “same” and “different”
- Follows 2 to 3 step directions
- Knows the difference between reality and pretend
COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES
At four years old children’s pretend play is becoming increasingly inventive. This is great news for their cognitive development, as pretend play allows them to practice real-life situations through play. Group pretend play is ideal for building their problem solving skills and learning to think outside the box.
Providing a variety of games for your four-year-old to play will encourage them to use their problem solving skills and to think creatively. At this age, simple board games and card games are a great way to support your child’s cognitive development and encourage healthy brain development by getting them to focus, count, use their working memory, and identify colors.
Playing hide-and-seek is a game that preschoolers love, and it also supports healthy brain development. When children play hide-and-seek they have to think creatively about where they will hide. They also have to make good decisions about where to hide, making sure it is a safe place and that they are well hidden.
VISIT INTERESTING PLACES
Children learn best by doing. Going on mini field trips to farms, grocery stores, farmers markets, and the public library can provide meaningful learning experiences for your preschooler. Be sure to ask your preschooler open-ended questions about what they see and how they think things work, and of course listen to their answers.
Asking questions of your preschooler is so beneficial to their cognitive development, as well as their language development. When you ask open-ended questions, like “why?” questions, you get your preschooler using their problem solving skills and thinking about how things work.
You can help your child stay on track with their cognitive development milestones by providing them with a variety of engaging play experiences, asking open-ended questions, and giving them real world experiences.