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Children grow and develop rapidly in their first five years across the four main areas of development. These areas are motor (physical), language and communication, cognitive and social/emotional.

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.

As a parent, it is important to foster your child’s cognitive development as soon as he/she is born because doing so provides the foundation for your child’s success in school and later in life. For example, research shows that children who can distinguish sounds at six months of age are better at acquiring the skills for learning to read at four and five years of age.

To promote your child’s cognitive development, it is important that you actively engage in quality interactions on a daily basis.

Jean Piaget’s theory of cognitive development suggests that children move through four different stages of mental development. His theory focuses not only on understanding how children acquire knowledge, but also on understanding the nature of intelligence.

Piaget believed that children take an active role in the learning process, acting much like little scientists as they perform experiments, make observations, and learn about the world. As kids interact with the world around them, they continually add new knowledge, build upon existing knowledge, and adapt previously held ideas to accommodate new information.

Instead, he proposed, intelligence is something that grows and develops through a series of stages. Older children do not just think more quickly than younger children, he suggested. Instead, there are both qualitative and quantitative differences between the thinking of young children versus older children.

Based on his observations, he concluded that children were not less intelligent than adults, they simply think differently. Albert Einstein called Piaget’s discovery “so simple only a genius could have thought of it.”

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