Intellectual (cognitive)

There are MANY intellectual or cognitive activities to help very young children develop thinking and readiness skills.  Some of the easiest to incorporate into play are:

Puzzles–start simple, but continually add more pieces and more challenging patterns.  Teach children to look at the edges, the shapes, the colors, the picture, etc.

Block Play–Blocks are one of the most important toys you can provide for a child.  Sit down and play with your child, guiding the discussion to symmetry, balance, structure, shapes, etc.

Read, Read, Read–Read to your child EVERY day–several books in short sessions.  Go to the library.  Keep books around the house that your child is permitted to handle and "read."

Scribbling–With careful supervision and non-toxic writing materials, allowing even 1 year olds to scribble on paper or finger paint provides tactile and sensory experiences that stimulate a love for writing and drawing.  While your child scribbles, guide discussion to how important making marks on paper can be.  It helps us tell things in a different way.  It will make words pictures.  Be sure to praise your child's efforts to "write."

Talk, Talk, Talk–Talking builds relationship and vocabulary.  It models correct grammar and establishes the importance of communication.  Children who excel in academics are children who have had much experience in oral communication, which also is a major pre-requisite for reading and written expression.

Even with children as young as age 2, provide themed unit studies that expose children to the world around them.  Children are curious, and given age-appropriate information, thrive in discovering science and social studies topics.

Toys can be a source of both entertainment and provide practice with important cognitive skills.  Building types of toys give children problem-solving and creative opportunities.  Our children loved a set of PVC pipes with connectors.  Dolls, trucks, and plastic animals, kitchen sets, tool kits, doctors/nurses kits give children opportunities to simulate adult life.  The closer to "real" the more children enjoy the toys.  Be sure to watch the suggested age level on the toy packaging and evaluate your own child's developmental readiness for particular toys for safety reasons.  While toys may seem safe, they often have small breakable parts that can be dangerous to children who still mouth toys.

Dress-up and puppets give children opportunities to imagine, express themselves, explore roles in relationships, and participate in storytelling. 

Expensive electronic toys are popular in our culture, but not essential to helping children develop cognitively.  While computers are an integral part of our society, research is conflicting as to the value of early introduction to young children.  Allowing children more hands-on play with concrete objects is, in our opinion, a more productive use of children's play time. 

For age-appropriate cognitive activities for children ages Birth – 5, we have several excellent curricular resources in the Early Childhood section of our catalog.  We will also be adding more resources and toys as we are able.

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