Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the construction of thought processes such as the ability to remember events, problem solve and decision making from an early age through to adolescence and adulthood.

Early childhood is not only a period of amazing physical growth, it is also a time of remarkable mental development. Cognitive abilities associated with memory, reasoning, problem-solving and thinking continue to emerge throughout childhood. When it comes to childhood cognitive development, it would be impossible to avoid mentioning the work of psychologist Jean Piaget.

Piaget has four stages of cognitive development that all children go through as they grow, there are age brakets for these, which are an approximation as children grow and develop at all different times and no two children will develop the same.


Stages of Cognitive Development


  • The Sensorimotor Stage (Stage 1): A period of time between birth and age two during which an infant’s knowledge of the world is limited to his or her sensory perceptions and motor activities. Behaviors are limited to simple motor responses caused by sensory stimuli.


  • The Preoperational Stage (Stage 2): A period between ages two and six during which a child learns to use language. During this stage, children do not yet understand concrete logic, cannot mentally manipulate information and are unable to take the point of view of other people.


  • The Concrete Operational Stage (Stage 3): A period between ages seven and eleven during which children gain a better understanding of mental operations. Children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.


  • The Formal Operational Stage (Stage 4): A period between age twelve to adulthood when people develop the ability to think about abstract concepts. Skills such as logical thought, deductive reasoning and systematic planning also emerge during this stage.


To teach or assist children in developing their cognitive skills there are lots of activities that you can do on a daily basis. Below are some website resources as well as a list of activities that will benefit any child’s cognitive development in stages one and two, as stages 3 and 4 are for older children.

Good activities for Stage one

  • Stimulating Music   (0–5 months)
  • Sound of Music   (3–6 months)
  • Crawl n Chase   (6–12 months)
  • Discovering Textures   (6–12 months)
  • Floor Pictures   (6–12 months)
  • Jelly Art   (6–12 months)
  • Meet the Family   (6–12 months)

Good Activities for Stage 2

  • Missing Word (2 Years+)
  • Noisy Animals   (2 Years+)
  • Peg Races   (2 Years+
  • Estimation   (4 Years+)
  • Hickory Dickory Dock   (4 Years+)
  • I Spy   (4 Years+
  • Guess Who (6 Years+)
  • Rhyming Charades (6 Years+)

To see the instructions for these games click on the link below

Other good games and online resources

The Australian Institue of Learning and Cognitive Development

Sydney Cognitive Development Centre

WordPress Blog – Life with Little Children


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