Private Kindergarten in The Woodlands, TX
As children advance through preschool, their cognitive development is greatly impacted by the surrounding environment and activities that they engage in. At Stepping Stones Preparatory Academy, we provide a nurturing atmosphere where children can learn and explore while refining their social and motor skills.
Responding to Early Brain Development Research
The first three years of a child’s life are instrumental. They lay a strong foundation and set up your child for a lifetime of learning. In fact, by age 3, a child’s brain has already developed at least 80% of its wiring. How do we know this? Neuroscience has advanced to the point where we can observe brain scarring and use it to determine the timeline of a brain’s neural wiring.
Five Key Findings
The seminal 1996 publication Brain: New Insights Into Early Development found five major findings concerning cognitive development in young children.
1. A three-year-old’s brain is up to two and a half times more active than an adult’s brain. This is due to the fact that most of the neuron wiring that will occur during a child’s lifetime happens during the first three years.
2. Brain development is inextricably linked to both genes and environment. In other words, a child’s environment can play an equally important role in the development of their brain as genetics.
3. Experience wires the brain, but repetition is key to cementing that wiring. The more active the environment and experiences a child is exposed to, the better their overall cognitive development.
4. Brain development follows a non-linear path of growth. There are certain ‘windows’ for optimal development.
5. Early relationships have a significant impact on a child’s development. Without meaningful connections, a child may not develop social or emotional skills.
Conscious Discipline: Community Building
Conscious discipline focuses on creating a secure learning environment for children. Students develop their social skills through the construction of an emotional community with their peers and teachers. Positive cognitive growth requires this type of enrichment. Children that do not feel safe at home or school are less likely to develop successfully. Conscious discipline allows for both learning and discipline.
Conscious Discipline: Closing Circle
A closing circle is a short but effective ritual. The class comes together at the end of the day to reflect on their experiences and what they learned that day. This simple aspect of conscious discipline helps children to make connections between the day’s activities. The closing circle gives children an opportunity to observe their emotions as well as those of their peers, furthering their emotional development.
Example Play Ideas for Encouraging Preschooler Cognitive Development
- Practice ABCs: Use songs and games to help children learn the alphabet.
- Counting: Allow children to practice their counting skills by sorting their snacks, the number of steps in a game, or fun items in a scavenger hunt.
- Shapes: Have children search for items with particular shapes and draw them on paper or use blocks of various shapes to build towers.
Screen Time, Digital Technology, & Cognitive Development
The relationship between screen time and cognitive development is a contentious issue. However, there is evidence to support a negative correlation. According to HealthMatters, studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown a link between excessive screen usage and slower rates of pre-cognitive growth. Children with access to devices with screens more often were less likely to display mental agility. This supports the growing school of thought that small children should have limited time on devices like smartphones and iPads.
Cognitive Development Skills Learned During Pre-School
1. Questioning. This is when a child asks “why?” to identify causation and asks other questions to clarify a situation.
2. Spatial relationships. Children begin to investigate the spatial and geographical features of their surroundings.
3. Problem-solving. When children experiment, look into things, and collaborate with other kids to solve problems.
4. Imitation. When children copy the behaviors of their teachers, parents, and peers.
5. Memory. Children learn how to distinguish between people, items, and their daily activities. They also establish routines.
6. Number sense. A child begins to understand the concept of numbers.
7. Classification. A child can begin to categorize things based on different attributes. For example, they attempt to sort blocks by shape or color.
8. Symbolic play. Children use items to represent other items or concepts during play.
Contact Stepping Stones Preparatory Academy Today
At Stepping Stones Preparatory Academy, we recognize the significance of early intervention and support for cognitive development in preschoolers. Our educators provide a nurturing environment where children can learn through play. Using established scientific research, we help children unlock their full potential. Contact us today to learn more.