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Stimulate cognitive development in your child

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How does a child's brain develop? It's a question many parents ask themselves. And the answer is: a child's brain develops in four stages.

A child's cognitive development begins from birth and ends around puberty. A child's brain develops in four stages: sensory, imitative, logical and abstract.

In this article I tell you all about the cognitive development of a child and how you can help as a parent.

What are Cognitive Skills

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What is cognitive development in children?

Cognitive development is the process by which a child gains knowledge about the world around them through mental functions such as perceiving, thinking, remembering, storing and retrieving information. It is an important part of a child's development because it forms the foundation for learning new skills and solving problems. Cognitive development affects a child's behavior and can help them understand social situations and learn new things.

Factors that influence cognitive development

Cognitive development is influenced by various factors such as genetics, environment, physical and social factors. Children are born with a certain amount of cognitive skills, but these skills can be improved through stimulation and interaction with the environment.

The environment in which a child grows up plays an important role in cognitive development. Children who grow up in an environment with little stimulation and interaction often have a less strong cognitive development than children who grow up in an environment with a lot of stimulation and interaction.

How cognitive development can be stimulated

There are several ways that parents and caregivers can encourage a child's cognitive development. Here are some examples:

  • Play with toys that stimulate a child's cognitive skills, such as puzzles, blocks and games.
  • Using software and tools that improve a child's cognitive skills, such as educational apps and computer games.
  • Telling stories and reading books to improve a child's language skills.
  • Creating an environment in which a child can discover and learn new things.
  • Encouraging a child to be active and play, for example by playing outside and playing sports.
  • Setting goals and providing challenges to improve a child's cognitive skills.

Why a child's cognitive development is important for learning

A child's cognitive development begins at birth and continues through puberty. This stage of development is very important because it lays the foundation for learning new information and skills. It means that children have to learn to understand and process new concepts and information, and to develop their memory and intelligence.

Influence of Jean Piaget

The developmental psychologist Jean Piaget divides children's cognitive development into four stages. He saw that children develop new skills at every stage and that their way of reasoning changes. At first, children are mainly sensory and imitative, but as they get older, they develop logical and abstract thinking skills.

Executive functions and working memory

Executive functions, such as working memory, are important to a child's cognitive development. These functions enable children to process and remember information and solve problems. These functions can be strengthened, for example, by means of playful learning and offering challenging tasks.

Importance for social and emotional development

Proper cognitive development is not only important for learning new information and skills, but also for a child's social and emotional development. For example, children who have not developed enough basic motor skills may have problems playing with other children.

Changes in the pubertal brain

During puberty, a child's brain changes again. Cognitive functioning becomes more complex and more abstract thinking emerges. This can lead to awkward situations, such as criticizing the parents and slamming doors. It is important as a parent to understand this and to help the child develop these new skills.

Importance of early signaling

It is important that a child's cognitive development is properly monitored so that any problems can be identified and addressed early. Childcare and pre-school education play an important role in this. It is therefore important that professionals in this sector are well aware of the milestones in a child's cognitive development.

Collaboration between parents and professionals

Good cooperation between parents and professionals, such as pedagogues and developmental psychologists, can help stimulate a child's cognitive development. It is important that parents and professionals inform each other well and support each other in laying the foundation for learning new information and skills.

Cognitive development in children aged 2-3 years

At this age, a child's brain begins to develop. It gets better at recognizing shapes and colors and learns new words. It is also getting better at remembering things and is beginning to understand that objects continue to exist even when they are not visible. This means that if you hide a ball behind a glass of water, the child will know that the ball is still there, even if they can't see it.

Play and learn

Play is an important way children learn and develop. It's important to give your child simple games that they can play, such as rolling a ball across the table. The child then learns rules and how to play together. Playing with blocks can also help develop fine motor skills and understanding cause and effect.

Stimulate at home

There are many ways you can boost your child's cognitive development at home. Here are a few ideas:

  • Give your child the opportunity to ask questions and try to answer them as best you can.
  • Add new words to your child's vocabulary by naming things you see.
  • Let your child draw and color to develop fine motor skills.
  • Play games like hide and seek together and name the rules.
  • Give your child the opportunity to experiment with water and sand to learn about cause and effect.

Other factors that influence

There are several factors that influence a child's cognitive development, such as the environment in which they grow up and the degree of parental involvement. It is important to keep stimulating and challenging your child, but also to remember that every child develops at their own pace.

Your toddler's development

Your child continues to grow and develop physically. It is important to give your child enough space to move and explore. For example, let your child play outside and choose which activity he or she wants to do. Toys can also help with this. For example, a ball is a beautiful object that can interest your child.

Cognitive development

Your toddler is learning more and more and needs new information. It is important to encourage your child to learn and discover. This can be done, for example, by recognizing and naming simple shapes, or by learning to write. Getting acquainted with words and naming body parts can also help with cognitive development.

Tips to stimulate development

  • Let your child discover as much as possible and try not to intervene too quickly
  • Give your child plenty of room to move and play
  • Encourage your child to learn and discover new things
  • Teach your child to share and play together
  • Show love and affection and show that it's okay to show emotions

It is important to remember that every child develops at his or her own pace. Don't compare your child to others and make sure your child can be themselves. As a parent you can stimulate and support your child in the process of development.

Tips to stimulate your child's cognitive development

Playing games is not only fun, but also a great way to boost your child's cognitive skills. Here are some fun and educational games you can play with your child:

  • Memory: This game helps your child to train his/her memory. Place some picture cards on the table and let your child try to find the right pairs.
  • Puzzles: Puzzles help your child develop his/her problem-solving skills. Start with simple puzzles and gradually add more pieces as your child gets older.
  • Building blocks: Building blocks helps your child to develop his/her fine motor skills and to recognize shapes and colors. Let your child sort and build different shapes and colors of blocks.
  • Board Games: Board games help your child develop social skills and understand rules. Choose a game that is appropriate for your child's age and play it together.

Talk and give information

Talking and providing information is a great way to boost your child's cognitive development. Here are some tips:

  • Talk to your baby from birth. Even if your baby can't talk yet, he/she will recognize the intonation and rhythm of your voice and learn language through it.
  • Let your child discover and repeat things. When your child learns something new, repeat it regularly so that it stays in his/her memory.
  • Give your child information about the world around him/her. Tell him/her about the colors, shapes, animals and plants he/she sees.
  • Compare things. Show your child how things are different or just the same. For example: “This ball is red and this ball is blue.”

Playing outside

Playing outside is not only fun, but also good for your child's cognitive development. Here are some tips:

  • Let your child move and explore. Let him/her run, jump, climb and play with sand and water.
  • Give your child challenges. For example, have him/her throw a ball into a round opening or roll a ball through a hole in a box.
  • Play together with your child. For example, play with a ball or make a sand castle together.
  • Give your child the freedom to explore. Let him/her try and discover things for himself.

Safety and material

Safety and material are important in stimulating your child's cognitive development. Here are some tips:

  • Use safe toys and equipment. Check that the toy is appropriate for your child's age and that there are no small parts that he/she could swallow.
  • Give your child different toys. For example, give him/her toys that stimulate fine motor skills, such as blocks, and toys that stimulate social skills, such as board games.
  • Give your child the freedom to play. Let him/her decide for himself what he/she likes to do and give him/her the space to experiment.
  • Give your child time to play. Let him/her have fun and don't disturb him/her too often.

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.