Encouraging Cognitive Development in Preschoolers

Encouraging Cognitive Development in PreschoolersPreschoolers today start out in a very social environment from birth. Not only are they influenced by parents, grandparents, and siblings, but also teachers, classmates, culture, values and items like books, toys, and electronics. Each social encounter can enhance cognitive development and growth.

As preschoolers grow from age three to five, their thinking ability is growing by leaps and bounds. The begin to comprehend the use of symbols as representation and use logic to learn how and why things work. Even so, their little minds still have a long way to grow cognitively. At ABC Learning Center, we know the vital role teachers play in preschoolers’ cognitive development and growth and understand the need to provide support and guidance. Once way, we accomplish that goal is through children’s books. Parents and other caregivers can join in this by reading to preschoolers at home, as each of us know reading enhances knowledge, but it also promotes thinking, memory, reasoning, problem solving, social cognition, and symbolic play.

Thinking About Thoughts

Scientifically, thinking about thoughts is known as metacognitive knowledge. At the preschool level it is children learning to control their own learning. It is the place children glean the strategic ways in which they remember and recall information – learning. Teachers can encourage metacognition with shared reading and post-reading activities. These activities could include drawing a picture or naming something new they learned from the story.


Going hand in hand with metacognition, preschoolers remember based on their previous knowledge of concepts and ideas. If a child already has knowledge about a subject, they remember more than if the subject is totally new to them. Preschoolers memory is also enhanced by hands on learning and easily understandable context. For example, teachers can make connections in the story to everyday life experiences of their preschoolers to help with memory skills. In addition, asking questions throughout the story aids recall, as does the repetition of significant concepts in the story. In the same way, new concepts can be introduced by reading books on a topic prior t the introduction to aid in understanding and help with recall.

Reasoning and Problem Solving

Reasoning and problem solving come together to help children understand how and why things work. The steady stream of why and how questions demonstrate the development of these cognitive skills. When reading, teachers can enhance preschoolers ever-evolving curiosity though their own why and how questions while allowing the children to think and respond. Reasoning and problem solving is also enhanced though hands on problem solving activities after reading a “how to” children’s book to the preschoolers.

Social Cognition

Social Cognition is simply thinking about others in social situations. As cognitive skills develop, children gain greater perspectives of how the world works. Children at this stage are beginning to understand the perspectives of their peers and growing in their ability to communicate. Though the reading of children’s books about feelings and behaviors is a successful way to promote the development of social cognition.

Symbolism in Play

As preschoolers’ cognitive development is enhanced, they learn the use of symbols as representation for other objects, and understand the significance of real and fantasy. This is make-believe, and it should be encouraged allowing a box to represent a train, a Lincoln Log to become a phone, and children to pretend they are the characters in the books being read to them.

Cognitive development in the preschool years is phenomenal as children learn to learn to communicate, think, reason, problem solve, remember, pretend, and understand life from other perspectives. Teachers, parents, and caregivers can encourage this growth and development simply through books and reading every day.

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