Cognitive skills, such as attention, memory, reasoning and self-regulation, are essential for continued learning. Playful activities of all kinds will help kids develop the cognitive skills they need to successfully read, write and work with numbers. Working on these skills does not have to feel like a chore for parents or their children because most cognitive skills can be developed through play.
Simply including numbers in the conversation will help small children understand mathematical concepts when they enter school, according to psychology professor Sian Beilock. Counting things is a fun way to engage children and enhance their cognition, and everything can be counted, such as birds and flowers on a nature walk; books on the bookshelf; and socks in the laundry basket. Have children help draw the numbers on a hopscotch board or count how many bubbles they can pop before the wind blows them away.
Children need to learn that symbols in the world around them often represent deeper meanings. For example, letters represent sounds and numbers represent quantities. Around 4 years of age, imaginative play tends to intensify, a sure sign that children are gaining a cognitive understanding that objects they see can represent things they cannot see. Join in the fun and pretend right alongside children this age. While playing, encourage kids to think about the game from different perspectives by pretending to be different characters or objects.
Developing memorization skills will help children recognize sight words as they learn to read and will help them understand predictable mathematical concepts. Reading favorite books repeatedly will help children recognize words and memorize what will happen next. After reading, talk to children about what happened in the story; this will help them understand the concept of cause and effect as well as allow them to process the way in which characters identify and solve problems. Puzzles also require children to remember where different pieces belong, which will help them flex their mental muscles.
Young children have to work hard to determine what is real and what is not. Many preschoolers and early elementary students believe in magical concepts, such as the tooth fairy, which can make understanding reality challenging. Sorting games help children identify the similarities and differences between objects and ideas. Play I Spy while running errands and categorize the objects seen while asking questions about them: Are they all animals or living things? Are they all the same size? Talking about daily activities will help children understand the different concepts that influence their learning.