Children are exposed to a highly social environment from the day they are born. The world in which they have to grow up consists inevitably of not only siblings, parents, teachers, other people and things – living and non-living, but also values, opinions and prejudices.
All of them constitute strong, ever-burgeoning stimuli, in the context of which the cognitive development of children is triggered.
Reading and cognitive development
At the age of 3–5 years, thinking skills of preschoolers undergo tremendous change. Their capacity for using representational symbols to signify people, objects, and events become more complicated. In addition, preschoolers start to apply logic to their thinking process, and ask why and how things work in the world.
A great way for teachers to sharpen the thinking skills of preschoolers is shared reading of quality books; it helps promote aspects of cognition like problem solving, reasoning, symbolic play, memory, metacognitive knowledge, and social cognition. Here are a few ideas for you to help encourage cognitive development of your kids.
Reasoning and problem solving through reading
During preschool years, children try to explain how any stuff works. At times their explanations may seem far-fetched: their series of ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions show a real desire on their part to solve problems, and reason about the bases of events.
To develop the natural curiosity of these toddlers, teachers must pose questions that are thought provoking. They must help children in understanding the natural causes behind certain phenomena, to promote their cognitive development beyond simple recognition of superficial transformations in the looks of things.
Another striking trait of preschoolers is their ability to participate in symbolic representation. A box can become a car, while a block may become a phone. They start to display an understanding of the many differences between what is unreal and what is real.
Teachers must encourage make-believe play during the preschool years. Kids associate themselves often with characters in storybooks. Hence it would be rewarding for them to read books that depict little children, animals or other characters that engage in symbolic play; it is a great method that can inspire children to participate in pretend play in their own unique ways.
Memory of preschoolers is affected by their previous knowledge. Kids of this age tend to remember new ideas and concepts more easily in relation to previous knowledge about the particular subject on hand; it is not so, when they know little about a certain topic.
Also, kids of age 3-5 years remember new concepts more easily, if introduced in meaningful contexts, or through hands-on experience.
Social cognition basically means thinking of others. As children start to develop new cognitive skills, they tend to have increasingly deeper perception of how the social world works around them.
It is an excellent way for teachers to strengthen social cognition through reading stories that portray feelings and emotions of people in relation to their behaviors and thoughts.
Effective cognitive development during preschool years helps kids to play, communicate, and apply logic in ways that might have been impossible in toddlerhood. With proper knowledge and planning of cognitive growth during these years, teachers can easily promote cognitive development through the everyday activity of story time reading.