Kindergarten Readiness: Cognitive Skills
Cognitive Skills are those concepts we typically think of first when talking about children being ready to enter school. Cognitive skills are also called “knowing” skills because they are the foundation on which future skills are built. In this program, parents and caregivers will learn how to use everyday materials and experiences to help their child develop in this area.
- [Denise] Cognitive skills are those concepts we typically think of first when talking about children being ready to enter school.
These skills are one area of kindergarten readiness that parents can help their children to develop by using everyday experiences.
Cognitive skills are also called knowing skills, because they are the foundations on which future skills and knowledge are built.
These skills include, recognizing letters of the alphabet, knowing colors, knowing their shapes, and being able to recognize numbers and do some basic counting.
Cognitive skills are developed early in life.
Before you could operate a vehicle, you had to have many other cognitive skills in place such as color recognition, number identification, understanding the meaning of signs and symbols.
Basically, you really started to learn to drive before you even started kindergarten.
Other cognitive skills for children entering school include counting to about 10, speaking in complete sentences to express needs, writing some letters of the alphabet found in their name, recognizing shapes and being able to remember or repeat short nursery rhymes.
The good news is that you don't need to spend a lot of money on expensive toys or learning tools to teach your child cognitive skills.
Your home is a treasure trove of learning opportunities.
Everything you do in your home, from cooking to washing the car, is a chance to help your child develop his or her cognitive skills.
Let's take a look at how this can happen.
Do you ever feel like the laundry never goes away?
Most parents feel this way.
So try making laundry time less of a chore by using it as an opportunity to spend time with your preschooler, teaching him a couple of things, and getting the laundry done at the same time.
There are different ways you can do this.
You can have your child find certain articles of clothing as you name them, for example, you might say please find me a blue shirt, or a yellow towel.
You could also ask him to help you count the socks or sort the white ones from the black ones.
These simple tasks help teach your child about color recognition, names of clothing, following directions, categorizing, or grouping like items, by topics such as color, and best of all, they are spending time with you.
Another way to help your child learn cognitive skills is to have him help you prepare meals.
Again, you can get dinner made and utilize the preparation time to help teach your child some cognitive skills.
When it's time for lunch or dinner, cut food into shapes and ask him what shape you made.
Ask him if he could find other things in the kitchen with the same shape.
Provide cookie cutters of basic shapes and let your child cut out slices of cheese or bread, foods that will be eaten at the next meal.
Ask him to count 10 carrots and put them in the pot for you.
Your child is learning concepts in a fun and exciting way while building his relationship with you.
Talking with your child throughout activities helps him to hear the sounds of his language and build his vocabulary.
But remember, think safety first.
Always supervise children in the kitchen.
Be aware of and explain the dangers of hot stoves, sharp objects, and dangling cords.
Never let a young child handle utensils alone.
All parents know that sometimes bedtime can become battle time when children can't seem to slow down.
Playing a low key game can help to diffuse frustration and slow both of you down.
It can help the parents and the child to wind down.
For example, a simple game such as I spy is a great way to cover all the cognitive areas at bedtime.
You can play this game using objects in the room, or perhaps in a book you're going to read together.
Tell your child, I spy something yellow, and ask her to find something else that's yellow.
Give positive recognition when she names something of that color.
And give gentle correction, for example, that's orange, let's see if you can find something yellow when she guesses incorrectly.
At the same time that you're helping your child settle down for bed you're teaching things like, matching things that look alike, looking for similar items, and of course, you're playing a simple game and building your relationship with your child.
Now you try, let's see if you can come up with some ideas of how you might use these inexpensive items, plastic utensils, found in most homes to teach your child cognitive skills.
Here are some ideas you might have tried.
Did you try sorting?
You could have sorted the utensils by the kind of utensil they are, all the knives, all the spoons, all the forks, or maybe you did all the green things together.
Or all the red things together.
Maybe you counted, let's see how many green forks we have.
Let's see how many red utensils we have.
Maybe you even went one step further and made a pattern or a sequence with the utensils, such as blue, yellow, red, blue, yellow, red.
And there are probably many more things you thought of as well.
One very important outcome of any activity you do with your child, is language development.
When children hear the sounds of their language and the meaning of words, they build a strong foundation for literacy, which is a key ingredient to success in learning.
Language development can also be enhanced if you speak two languages at home.
When your child is young, it is an excellent time to teach both languages to your child.
Helpful activities might include naming items or foods in both languages, teaching them to count in two languages for example, or simply carrying on a conversation in both languages.
You don't need lots of money or fancy equipment to help your child get ready for school.
Use your home, everyday routines, and commonly found items around the house as teaching tools.
Remember, you are your child's first and most important teacher.