What is cognitive development in early childhood?
"Cognitive development means how children think, explore and figure things out. It is the development of knowledge, skills, problem solving and dispositions, which help children to think about and understand the world around them. Brain development is part of cognitive development." - Help Me Grow
Cognitive development encompasses a child's working memory, attention, as well as a child's ability to manage and respond to the experiences and information they experience on a daily basis. Cognitive development activities include problem solving, cause-effect relations, part-whole relations, naming and classifying, sorting, organising - making sense of the world. It includes working out where things go, what belongs together!
Jigsaw puzzles are great for cognitive development as the child needs to look at the larger image or analyse each piece and use their memory (shapes, colours, picture), what they know about the world and problem-solving techniques to determine which piece goes where.
These puzzles (shown below) aren't new but it is the first time we've used them. Here the child has to consider what images 'go together' and secondly what pieces will physically fit together. These are also fantastic for exploring themes and for language development.
Community Workers. My toddler is obsessed with community workers like Doctors, Firefighters, Garbage Truck Drivers, Delivery Drivers and Paramedics so this is an obvious choice. Here the toddler matches the worker to a piece of their equipment or tools.
With all of these puzzles I start by only presenting 4-5 puzzles and then put out more as the child increases in confidence. There are just a couple that I don't put out at all as these that don't make sense to me, or might not make sense to a toddler.
What Goes Together. This one was slightly harder for my toddler so I've started by putting out the cards that make sense to our family. My toddler does this independently but I also like to do it together so we can talk about the items.
Opposites. Opposites isn't a concept that my toddler is familiar with but he is still able to match these because he knows what images go together, if we are doing it together we can talk about what is in the image, some of these are fun to talk about like clean and dirty, awake or asleep. This is also an example of work that my toddler doesn't choose a lot but I want to explore it with him so I will invite him to do the work with me and it also works as a prompt, a reminder for me to discuss some of these topics as part of our every day living.
In this series I also like the Shapes set. There are a few printables online with familiar themes but I like the inbuilt control of error with these puzzle and toddlers can feel a sense of achievement when the pieces click in together.
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