What Is Cognitive Development In Early Childhood?

The transformation of a child’s early years is magnificent. The study of childhood development incorporates all aspects of learning and growth in a person’s life from birth to age 19. Cognitive development is a term and area of study used to explore a child’s thinking, growing brain, and all aspects of learning. 

The experiences a child has directly relate to their cognitive growth which impacts all areas of development. Most of this development happens with family, which is why a basic understanding is conducive to improving their lives. 

Childhood development can be a dense subject due to the volume of specialized research that has been done. A simple shortcut is understanding that the brain is more adaptive during early childhood. This is why children are often described as little sponges that soak up information! 

How Children Learn

When adults think about how they learn, they often consider a mixture of their ability, training, and resources. Introspective reflection on strengths and weaknesses influences their motivation and helps to expand their knowledge.  

The way a child’s brain develops is by processing information. A newborn starts learning to communicate with their first cry. The primary ways children learn during early childhood are through experiences, interactions, imitating, repetition, and playing. 

Playtime is all about learning for children, having fun and playing games are fundamental developmental tools. Enjoying activities as a family have benefits that last a lifetime! 

Intellectual Milestones, Timetables, And Influence

While parents are focused on caring for a newborn, experts are concerned about their reflexes. The reason is that it gives them insight into how the child’s brain is functioning. It’s important to realize that the primary purpose of developmental milestones is for professional assessment. 

In order to assess a child’s health, evaluate environmental factors, and determine what is average, experts require a way to communicate this data. 

It’s not as linear or clearly defined as you may think from looking at the milestone charts. The pace of development is unique and personal. 

For example, “early childhood” is a suggestive term that includes multiple age ranges. It’s best to consider the context that it is used in rather than have a predetermined assumption that it only applies to school-age children or the first three years of life. The milestones and terms are deliberately broad to incorporate a large amount of overlapping data. 

The reality is that children grow on their own timetables and at a pace that is best for them (and that’s totally fine!). There are many things they may have difficulty learning, such as drawing or reading. Family interactions are the foundation for all the skills a child needs to learn in life. 

As young children grow, so do their brains. Infants are born with a lifelong supply of neurons. They need experience to stimulate pathways between the neurons. The synapses in their brains form incredibly dynamic connections that affect how a person learns, communicates, and behaves for the rest of their lives. 

Contrary to popular belief, babies are complex thinkers. Deductive problem solving, a type of logical reasoning that’s previously thought to be beyond reach until four or five years, is now understood to take place in children before the age of one. 

Infants gain knowledge with every nurturing exchange. Parents have a natural instinct to naturally soothe and alleviate their child’s troubles or frustrations. You can enrich your child’s environment using a sing-song voice, a silly expression, or just by simply talking with them. Paying attention to faces is actually one of the first things infants start to do.

The most dynamic period of cognitive development is very early on. A significant part of the pathways that structure our brain happens by age three. After we continue gaining intelligence, the brain retains plasticity. The brain is just not as adaptable and rapidly changing afterwards. Some aspects of a young child’s intellectual development include the following: 

  • Reasoning
  • Attention 
  • Problem Solving
  • Memory
  • Language 
  • Communication 

Time Well Spent

Caring for your child and building strong family bonds is the absolute best way to improve your child’s life. Having a healthy relationship with your child is the best way to ensure they live full, happy, and healthy lives. 

Family interactions are the foundation that children use to learn all the skills they need for life. They are constantly developing social skills, emotional intellect, a sense of humor, problem-solving, and ethics.  

Talk To Your Child

Talking significantly helps a child’s growth. It’s the earliest exposure to language and is at the core of their intellectual development. The more conversations a child has, the stronger the connections between regions of the brain responsible for speech production and comprehension. 

The time you spend talking to your child should also involve a lot of listening. Children aren’t always aware that they are bothered by something. Talking about experiences and feelings is a way to problem-solve for many people, not just kids. 

Spending time talking together is also an investment in your relationship. Talking to young children helps them learn how to interact with people. The people we feel drawn to are those we enjoy talking to and spending time with. 

Family heritage, values, and beliefs are fundamental to a children’s identity. Family is a large part of a child’s community. The sense of belonging to a group of people is vital to their self-esteem. Asking open-ended questions shows your little one that you’re interested in what they have to say. Facial expressions are also helpful to show that you’re listening to what your child is saying. 

Cultivating relationships that encourage loved ones to relax and enjoy time together allows everyone the chance to bond. You want young family members to feel included, able to contribute, and understand that their family is a loyal team. 

It’s quicker to pick up a phone to search for information than to start asking questions, but that’s not always the best resource. Talking with family and asking them questions takes time and may contain opinions that one may not want to hear, but it’s a better way to seek advice.

Family support comes in all kinds of forms, most of which go unnoticed. For example, a lot of small issues can be quickly and easily resolved when they’re discussed with loved ones. Having regular time talking with people who are concerned about your welfare and are motivated by good intentions has a lot of value! 

Read To Your Child

There is a sequence to learning. We need to be good at basic techniques before tackling more advanced ones. Reading to your child is a cognitive development shortcut. Hearing a book read out loud allows kids to take advantage of language skills they may not have yet. 

The quality reading time together helps to improve listening, memory, and many formal language skills. Research supports that to help them develop, a child should hear 21,000 words every day, which is a lot! Reading is a great way to meet that enrichment goal. It’s also an excellent opportunity to explore new interests, laugh, and bond. 

We have tons of books to choose from for all age levels on Caribu. Reading together on a Caribu call is a great way to make reading interactive and fun! 

Care For Your Child

Children that feel connected to their families typically do better in school. Close family relationships provide a solid foundation for children to achieve the skills they want to learn. As we now know, children are constantly exploring their environment, listening and responding to it from birth. 

While children are learning to think, their growing brain needs a lot more than basic stimulation. Proper nutrition and rest are just as important to cognitive development as a child’s physical needs. Fresh air, exercise, laughter, and relaxation all help us learn better (adults included!).

Playing Children Thrive

Spending time together and having fun is a great way to enrich your child’s development. Quality family time benefits everyone involved, and Caribu is a great way to achieve that! For children, learning is a lot more about skill development than formal education. Enjoying the time you have with your kids is the key to helping them to succeed! 


Cognitive Development: Infants and Toddlers | Virtual Lab School

Infants Capable of Logical Reasoning Before the Age of One | Neuroscience News

The Role of Family in Child Development | Children’s Bureau