Why Is Cognitive Development Important In Preschool?

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

From the time your child is conceived until they finish elementary school, the concept of cognitive development is a hot topic. This is because these years have been shown to make things either easier or harder for an adult to succeed in later life, based on the level of cognitive development. Preschool development is believed to be a stepping stone to school, and kids with pre-K skills are more likely to make a smooth transition into kindergarten and the grades beyond.

Cognitive Development and Social Skills
One of the important parts of cognitive pre-k development is looking at a child's ability to socialize. Though no child will be perfectly selfless, understanding that others have needs beyond themselves, and the ability to recognize and acknowledge the needs of others is a crucial social skill. Sharing, comforting or celebrating with other children and recognizing emotions in others will all go a long way in helping a child to succeed socially. Kids who can do this are more likely to make friends quickly and less likely to resort to things like bullying to get what they want or need.

Cognitive Development and Academics
The debate about preschool and academics has returned after some studies have recently shown that the advantage that head start programs give children can disappear by around fourth grade. There are some important things to consider in favor of these programs, however, that the research fails to take into account. A child who is academically prepared for kindergarten is more likely to embrace learning and academics because they are being set up for success. A child who is academically successful early in life is more likely to create a lifelong love of learning that extends beyond the classroom. People who are curious about the world tend to be happier and more successful than those who are not. The other factors in a child's academic success tend to be things that are either present in their life or not. These include a secure environment and parents that are invested in the success of their children, and therefore work with them to do well on homework assignments.

Encouraging Cognitive Development in your Preschooler
There are many ways to encourage the growth of your preschooler's brain. Two major ways are with play and by letting them be a part of what you do. Kids are hardwired to want to help at this age, and if you allow them to be a part of your daily activities like cooking and cleaning, they will continue to help you throughout their lives. When they are curious, work with them to discover the answer, and give them the tools to do this in the future for themselves. Finally, play together. Play games that encourage sharing, taking turns, and learning colors, numbers, language and songs. If you're not sure how, then watch shows like sesame street together, and discuss it. Not only is this quality family time, but you are setting your child up with the skills to be a happy, successful school aged child and a happy, successful adult.

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