The Cognitive Variable
By Hobie Anthony, eHow Contributor
Cognitive variables are means people use every day to process information. These variables are used to describe why one person is lacking in artistic ability, yet exhibits high competence in a specific area, such as electronics. Each person seems to have these variables in differing degrees, and scientists seek correlations between the variables, perhaps hoping to see if one might cause or add to another.
One of the three areas considered to make up the INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES between learners which influence the degree of success in foreign language learning is the cognitive area. The main cognitive variables are INTELLIGENCE and APTITUDE, but MEMORY is often also included, as is the ability to utilize general learning mechanisms.
Are cognitive abilities the same thing as intelligence?
- Cognitive abilities can be trained and improved.
- Intelligence is a score on a test that stays relatively static in adulthood.
- Cognitive processes dealing with novelty (fluid intelligence) are just as important as acquired knowledge (crystallized intelligence). It takes both to keep your mental edge.
Not exactly. They are related and intertwined, but not the same thing.
Cognitive abilities are the brain-based skills and mental processes needed to carry out any task and have more to do with the mechanisms of how you learn, remember, and pay attention rather than any actual knowledge you have learned.
The term IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, generally describes a score on a test that rates your cognitive ability as compared to the general population. IQ tests are designed to measure your general ability to solve problems and understand concepts. There is a high positive correlation between IQ and success in school and the work place, but there are many, many cases where IQ and success do not coincide.
Because IQ tests attempt to measure your ability to understand ideas and not just the quantity of your knowledge, learning new information does not automatically increase your IQ. Intellectual ability seems to depend more on genetic factors than on environmental factors, but most experts agree that environmental enrichment plays some significant role in its development.
For the most part, adult IQ scores don’t significantly increase over time. There is evidence that maintaining an intellectually stimulating atmosphere (by learning new skills or solving puzzles, for example) boosts cognitive ability, similar to the way maintaining an exercise regimen boosts physical ability, but these changes do not necessarily have much effect on IQ scores.
In science, cognition is group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, producing and understanding language, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Various disciplines, such as psychology, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science all study cognition. However, the term’s usage varies across disciplines; for example, in psychology and cognitive science, “cognition” usually refers to an information processing view of an individual’s psychological functions. It is also used in a branch of social psychology called social cognition to explain attitudes, attribution, and groups dynamics. In cognitive psychology and cognitive engineering, cognition is typically assumed to be information processing in a participant’s or operator’s mind or brain.
Cognition is a faculty for the processing of information, applying knowledge, and changing preferences. Cognition, or cognitive processes, can be natural or artificial, conscious or unconscious. These processes are analyzed from different perspectives within different contexts, notably in the fields of linguistics,anesthesia,neurology and psychiatry, psychology,philosophy,anthropology,systemics, and computer science. Within psychology or philosophy, the concept of cognition is closely related to abstract concepts such as mind, intelligence. It encompasses the mental functions, mental processes (thoughts), and states of intelligent entities (humans, collaborative groups, human organizations, highly autonomous machines, and artificial intelligences).
Origins of Cognition
Attention to the cognitive process came about more than twenty-three centuries ago, beginning with Aristotle and his interest in the inner-workings of the mind and how they affect the human experience. Aristotle focused on cognitive areas pertaining to memory, perception, and mental imagery. The Greek philosopher found great importance in ensuring that his studies were based on empirical evidence; scientific information that is gathered through thorough observation and conscientious experimentation. Centuries later, as psychology became a blooming study in Europe and then gaining a following in America, other scientists like Wilhelm Wundt, Herman Ebbinghaus, Mary Whiton Calkins, and William James, to name a few, would offer their contributions to the study of cognition.
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) heavily emphasized the notion of what he called introspection; examining the inner feelings of an individual. With introspection, the subject had to be careful to describe their feelings in the most objective manner possible in order for Wundt to find the information scientific. Though Wundt’s contributions are by no means minimal, modern psychologists find his methods to be quite subjective, and choose to rely on more objective procedures of experimentations to make conclusions about the human cognitive process.
Herman Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) conducted cognitive studies mainly examined the function and capacity of human memory. Ebbinghaus developed his own experiment in which he constructed over 2,000 syllables made out of nonexistent words, for instance EAS. He would then examine his own personal ability to learn these non words. He purposely chose non words as opposed to real words to control for the influence of pre-existing experience with what the words may symbolize, thus enabling easier recollection of them. Ebbinghaus observed and hypothesized a number of variables that may have affected his ability to learn and recall the non words he created. One of the reasons he concluded was the amount of time between the presentation of the list of stimuli. His work heavily influenced the study of serial position and its affect on memory, discussed in subsequent sections.
Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930) was an influential American female pioneer in the realm of psychology. Her work also focused on the human memory capacity. A common theory, called the Recency effect, can be attributed to the studies that she conducted. The recency effect, also discussed in the subsequent experiment section, is the tendency for individuals to be able to accurately recollect the final items presented in a sequence of stimuli. Her theory is closely related to the aforementioned study and conclusion of the memory experiments conducted by Herman Ebbinghaus.
William James (1842-1910) is another pivotal figure in the history of cognitive science. James was quite discontent with Wundt’s emphasis on introspection and Ebbinghaus’ use of nonsense stimuli. He instead chose to focus on the human learning experience in everyday life and its importance to the study of cognition. James’ major contribution was his textbook Principles of Psychology that preliminarily examines many aspects of cognition like perception, memory, reasoning, and attention to name a few.
Some functions of Cognitive Variable, such as :
- Metacognition as knowledge of ways to thinking, thought structures and the capacity to control and modify cognitive learning process
- Systematized general and specific knowledge
- Understanding the language of science and the humanities
- Retention of knowledge
- Transfer of knowledge : trans-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches.
- Transfer of skill : practical application of knowledge
- Capacity for generalization and discrimination of contents
- Capacity for symbolic and abstract exchange
- Capacity to develop concept and categories
- Development of imagination to stimulate objects and processes
- Capacity to formulate problems and take decisions to solve them
- Capacity to search for and process information
- Capacity to evaluate information to reduce uncertainty
- Knowledge of the value of making mistakes as an aid to rectification
- Capacity to grasp the whole and act on the parts
There are three of main cognitive variables, such as :
By Hobie Anthony, eHow Contributor
1. Semantic and Episodic Memory
“Memory” is the storage of information and past experiences for the purpose of present-day application or use. In semantic memory, an individual relies on schemes to order his memories so as to make sense of himself and others. This occurs through language, which gives memories meaning or semantic importance. “Episodic memory” refers to events in a person’s life that are retold as narratives. Episodic memories coalesce to form semantic memories. For instance, one’s college career may be related in a series of episodes that are synthesized into a semantic whole, or meaning
Intelligence is often measured in terms of the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ. IQ is a measure of your ability to solve problems and understand concepts. There is a strong correlation between having a high IQ and academic success. Intelligence is considered separately from knowledge, as the acquisition of facts does not necessarily indicate an ability to apply the concepts or use them in a problem-solving context. There is debate as to whether genetics or environment affect IQ more, but it does appear to remain steady as a person ages.
“Aptitude” generally refers to an individual’s verbal, numerical or abstract reasoning skills. For the sake of practical application, aptitude refers to a person’s ability to learn or adapt certain new skills. For instance, a potential surgeon may be tested for cognitive knowledge and psychomotor ability, two areas deemed pertinent to the career of a surgeon. Others may exhibit strengths in different aptitudes, as aptitudes are seen as distinct and independent of one another.
By Hobie Anthony, eHow Contributor
People have different ways in which they acquire and process information, methods collectively called cognitive style. Cognitive style is considered a stable part of a person’s personality, as it forms the basis of how he interacts with his world, both in thought and action. For instance, some may have a holistic style, which sees tasks in a broad perspective to gain an overview and context. Others may exhibit a serialistic style, which sees tasks and arguments in terms of their steps. With a narrow focus, serialists break down each step of an argument or task, seeking to avoid wasteful redundancies.
How to Improve Cognitive Ability
Cognitive ability is the mental process that the brain uses to carry out a task. When we get up in years our cognitive abilities diminish. The good news is that we can slow it down if we choose to make the effort to do so. Otherwise, time will take its toll and the mind will lose much of its ability to function on the level we want it to. The mind, much like the body, needs activity to keep it from going down hill before it’s time.
- To keep cognitive ability from diminishing we need to make our brain work. In order for this to happen we must make ‘brain work’ a priority or habit. The way the brain learns is by repetition sort of like programming. Once programmed the mind will do what it knows to do. Make use of your brain as you do mindless tasks such as washing the car or fishing. You can do this by listening to educational or motivational tapes. Carry tapes with you wherever you go and listen to them when the opportunity arises.
- Stay creative by taking a class or doodling with a hobby. The mind loves to create things your job is to find out what it is yours wants to create. Creative projects are great for brain development. Do some research to get ideas and then be proactive and make it happen. Be social and meet new people. One of the ways we lose cognitive ability is loneliness or isolation. Loneliness affects brain function in a negative way. When we talk and listen the brain is working, especially if we’re learning or teaching.
- Do brain exercise to improve cognitive function. Puzzles, brain teasers, math problems, trivia games as well as board, card and computer games are all excellent ways to give the brain workout. Vary the exercises, be consistent and do them 3-4 times a week for best results. Exercise your body too! The brain is where the signal originates to tell the body what to do. Without the brain the body is lifeless. Do exercises you enjoy and also try new forms of exercise to make the brain work harder.
- Read and write daily if possible, both of these tasks work the mind and help keep cognitive ability from slipping away. It seems like such a simple thing to do and it is, so why not do it? Do yourself a favor and keep a tablet, pen and several books available for easy access.
- Lastly, eat healthy and add more brain foods to your diet. Consume foods rich in antioxidants like berries, grapes, veggies, nuts, eggs, seeds, cereals and foods that contain vitamins A, C, E and B complex. Also, salmon, mackerel and tuna as well as healthy fats found in avocado and olives are good for the brain.
Cognitive Learning Style
By Daniella Lauren, eHow Contributor
Cognitive learning refers to the ability to solve problems by learning, thinking, and memorizing and is commonly thought of as being part of one’s personality. There are four basic cognitive learning styles: multiple intelligence, mental self government, modalities, and mind style. Learning to recognize preferred cognitive learning styles can enhance both teaching and learning.
- Multiple Intelligence
Howard Gardner developed the multiple intelligence (MI) theory which explains that people are born with different levels of intelligence, and that intelligence can be “nurtured and strengthened, or ignored and weakened.”Gardner suggests that teachers identify and accommodate to the nine different teaching styles:
- Visual / spacial learners enjoy charts, graphs, and illustrations and like to see what they are learning to better understand.
- Verbal/linguistic learners excel in the traditional classroom and enjoy reading, writing, speaking, and listening,
- Mathematical/logical learners also excel in traditional classrooms and display a talent with reasoning and number skills.
- Bodily/kinesthetic learners do extremely well with hands-on activities and experiments.
- Musical/rhythmic learners pattern, rhythms, and musical expression.
- Intrapersonal learners are often quiet and intuitive.
- Interpersonal learners are outgoing and enjoy learning in groups or with partner
- Naturalist learners enjoy field trips and how they differ from traditional classroom learning.
- Existentialist learners prefer learning in context and are philosophic.
- Mental Self Government
Developed by Robert Sternberg, mental self government (MSG) asserts that intelligence is made up of a combination of three levels of self-management:
- Functions of the governments of the mind, such as the legislative, executive, and judicial form of government which carry out different roles.
- Forms of self government, such as monarchy, hierarchy, oligarchy, and anarchy.
- Scope and stylistic variables, such as internal learners who prefer to keep to themselves, and external learners who like to collaborate.
Sternberg suggests that teachers tend to teach based upon their own MSG and encourages altered teaching styles to reach every student.
Modality refers to the way information is processed and is typically broken down into three categories: visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. Since the typical student will only retail some of information presented in one modality, an effective lesson plan will include repetition of the material by using different modalities, which then increases comprehension.
- Mind Style
Anthony Gregorc suggests that the mind works with two primarily perceptive qualities: abstract and concrete; and two ordering abilities: sequential and random.
Regarding perceptive qualities, the concrete style uses the five senses to identify with objects, whereas the abstract style uses intuition, imagination, and visualization and looks for the subtleties.
The ordering abilities relate to how things are organized. Those who prefer sequential order tend to organize by train of thought and like plans. Random thinkers cluster ideas by chunks and are more impulsive.
Gregorc notes that most people are not strictly one type of learner, and will often switch from one style to another under different circumstances.
Cognition: Early Brain Development
1. Cognition, the mental ability to learn and acquire knowledge, is part of early brain development. Cognitive development encompasses all sensory input. As Master Social Worker (MSW) Angela Aswalt explained regarding Piaget’s theory, infants initially learn through instinctive and reflexive behavior. Their earliest cognitive development consists of two major milestones: discovery that they can acquire attention to their needs, typically through crying; and understanding of the “object permanence” concept–even if caregivers “disappear” from view, they reappear to tend to infants’ needs.
Language: Later Brain Development
2. In contrast to cognition, babies normally develop language somewhere between 12 to 18 months of age. Language acquisition is part of later brain development and builds upon existing cognition. In other words, babies begin to understand concepts and make distinctions between objects and events, prior to acquiring the ability to define them with relevant words. Whereas cognition is initially instinctive, language learning occurs as an acquired skill when babies process what they see and hear around them. Babies begin acquiring language by mimicking words spoken by other people and understanding the connection between the words and the objects or events represented.
Cognition: Ongoing Brain Development
3. As toddlers progress through early childhood years, between the ages of two to five, cognitive brain development continues. The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) determined that cognitive developmental milestones include thinking, reasoning and problem-solving. These milestones range from exploration, tasks such as piecing puzzles together and matching shapes around age two, to comprehension of concepts such as colors and numbers between the ages of three and four. Normally a five-year-old child can correctly name a few colors, count up to 10 or more, begin to understand the concept of time and identify things he uses daily.
Language: Ongoing Brain Development
4. Language learning explodes during these years, as normally developing children achieve several milestones. As defined by UMHS, from a previous vocabulary of only about a dozen words, two-year-old toddlers acquire a working language of as many as 200 words, including sentences of two or three words. Between three to four years old, children form sentences of four or more words and understand basic grammar rules. By the age of five, children can often recite part of a story, recall their names and addresses, and use longer sentences, including incorporating the future tense.
Jean Piaget, one of the best-known developmental psychologists, developed a stage theory of cognitive development. In his theory, all individuals progress through four specific stages, or periods of development, starting at birth and continuing on to adulthood.
Stage Theory Overview
Stage models describe development as a series of step-like stages.
Stage theorists like Piaget support the view that individuals’ development can be traced through step-like stages. Each step represents forward progress, or an increase in abilities. Stage theories in general also tend to have two modes; change and growth between stages, and longer periods of stability in the stage. Usually, each new stage incorporates all of the activities or skills of the earlier stages and adds to them.
Piaget’s Four Stage Model
Piaget’s model of cognitive development outlines the steps through which an individual moves from infancy to adult thinking. Unlike physical stages of growth, which are evident to the naked eye, cognitive growth must be measured by skills or activities. To define his stages, Piaget relied on his interpretations of how individuals represent the world around them and respond to it. Piaget considered ability to think rationally and use logic as markers of different stages.
The Four Stages
Piaget’s four stages are defined as:
- Sensorimotor – usually from birth to age two
- Preoperational – from age two or three to about age seven
- Concrete Operational – from age seven to eleven; and
- Formal Operational – from age twelve into adulthood
Formal Operational Stage
The fourth stage of Piaget’s model, the formal operational stage, is characterized by logical thinking and the ability to understand and process abstract information. Someone in the formal operational stage of Piaget’s model would be able to think about a hypothetical situation or think about and make plans for the future. A person in the formal operational stage can also understand abstract concepts such as freedom or justice. He can consider other points of view and see issues from multiple perspectives. The fourth stage is the ultimate and final stage in Piaget’s model of cognitive development.
Brain Exercises to Improve Cognition
By Hannah Rice Myers, eHow Contributor
Maybe you’ve begun to experience mental blocks more frequently than usual. Or perhaps while you’ve been in the middle of a conversation, you suddenly draw a blank and are unable to think of the perfect word to complete your sentence. These are all examples of poor cognitive function. Just as the muscles of your body will lose their strength when they are not worked, your brain will lose its ability to function when it is not exercised. Therefore, performing brain exercises each day can help your brain become sharper than ever before.
1. The Five Cognitive Functions
- As you become older, your ability to remain mentally strong begins to decline; your cognition is responsible for this. However brain exercises can help improve your cognitive ability.
Within your brain, there are five main functions which comprise your cognitive abilities: memory, visual-spatial skills, language, attention and executive function. Stimulating these functions on a regular basis helps improve your cognitive abilities.
- Memory plays the largest role in every cognitive function and activity your brain participates in, including reasoning and mental calculations. A variety of memory types are at work in your brain each day; however, you may not recognize them until one of them begins to fail you.
To exercise this function of cognition, try memorizing the words to a song you don’t know; this helps boost the chemical acetycholine, which is responsible for improving memory skills.
You can also try using your non-dominant hand for activities such as brushing your teeth, or attempt to get dressed in the dark; this forces the opposite side of your brain to begin working and thinking during these activities.
- A good attention span is required in nearly every aspect of life; it assists you in concentration during times when you are surrounded by noise and distraction, while helping you multitask.
One way to exercise this function is by changing the route you take to a particular place each day, such as school or work. This forces your brain to wake up from its old habits and pay attention.
You can also combine activities, which helps your brain learn to multitask. When you walk or jog, listen to an audio book or music CD. While driving, force yourself to devise some mental math problems to solve. Both of these force your brain to work on more than one thing at a time.
- This function enables you to interact within your environment more efficiently and become more aware of your surroundings.
Begin by staring straight ahead, taking in as many objects as possible both directly in front of you and within your peripheral vision. An hour later, write down every object you can remember seeing. This a terrific workout for your brain.
Another effective exercise is to walk into a room and find five different objects, taking in their locations. Two hours later, force yourself to remember what the objects were and where they were located. This exercise not only forces you to use your memory, but also trains your brain to focus on its surroundings.
5. Alternative Exercises
- While the above exercises are effective, there are online exercises that can help improve your cognitive ability as well. These were developed by a neurologist who specializes in improving cognition.
Just as your body benefits from a change in workouts and routines, so does your brain. A link to these interactive on line games, complete with your own virtual personal brain trainer, is located in the resource section.
Read more: Brain Exercises to Improve Cognition | eHow http://www.ehow.com/way_5426578_brain-exercises-improve-cognition.html#ixzz2T4Uaesfk
How to Test Cognitive Skills
By Julia Detering, eHow Contributor
Cognitive skills tests can help determine the presence of a concussion.
Tests for cognitive skills assess intellectual performance rather than intelligence. These tests are administered for a variety of reasons. They can be used to help determine the possibility of a concussion, the effects of high altitude, and the beginning signs of dementia. To use them accurately for these determinations, a baseline test should be administered prior to any potential brain damage. Then the results of each test can be compared for a more accurate determination of brain function.
- Administer the Stroop test to assess directed attention capabilities. People can process words quicker than they can process color. The test consists of a paper that lists the names of colors. All of the colors are written in ink different from the actual name of the color. To take the test, the user must name the color of the ink of the printed word, not the read the word. This test is timed and the time it takes to correctly complete the test is recorded.
- Use the Trail Making test. This timed tests consist of two parts. In the first part, the numbers from 1 to 25 are placed in circles and printed sporadically around the paper. The test taker must connect the numbers in order. The amount of time it takes to complete this task is recorded. The second part of the test adds the letters A to L, also in circles. The test taker must connect the letters and the numbers in consecutive order.
- Administer the Digit-Span Backward test. In this oral test, the administrator says numbers of increasing length. The test taker then repeats the number back. This test will show deficiencies in short-term memory and attention span. It is often used to evaluate children for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).
- Apply a battery of neuropsychological tests. Tests such as the Halstead-Reitan Neuropsychological Test Battery contain a number of consecutive tests to look at a variety of cognitive skills. These skills include memory, dexterity, thought processes and language comprehension. Such tests are administered to determine more complex brain function problems or brain damage.
How to Improve Cognitive Skills in Adults
By Sara Mahuron, eHow Contributor
The U.S. is one of the only countries where older adults are better educated than younger adults (OECD, 2008).
According to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, 40 percent of U.S. college students in 2007 were over the age of 25. Adult learners can also be found in corporate training programs, self-help programs and a number of other programs aimed at improving the skills and lives of adults. While the goals of adult education programs might differ, strategies and theory pertaining to adult learning is consistent. Adult learners are unique and require special considerations in learning programs and when improving cognitive skills.
- Motivate adult learners to learn. Adult learners are often motivated to learn things for different reasons than traditional students. Assessing the reasons adults are participating in programs or courses will give the instructor insight into how they can be motivated. Use appropriate rewards and emphasize the benefits the learner will receive for being successful. Adult learners also need to be supported and coached through learning. Take the time to compliment adult learners when they achieve their learning goals and provide direct constructive feedback to help them improve.
- Utilize life experiences to help adult learners learn new material. Use examples and reflection. Assess prior knowledge and connect new concepts to known concepts.
- Relate learning to practice. Adult learners often need to know that what they are learning is going to be useful and not just a waste of their time. Reinforce the learning and retention of skills by practice, giving knowledge meaning and supporting knowledge transfer.
- Create an appropriate learning environment free of distractions. Adults often have many competing responsibilities in their lives and are easily distracted. Consider adult participant needs when creating schedules and choosing learning locations. Make sure that the facilities are appropriate for adult learners.
- Set expectations for learning and clear objectives that can be evaluated. Also establish any classroom rules from the beginning. Ask adult learners to give input throughout the learning process.
- Encourage adult learners to have a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Adults need enough sleep so that they can focus on learning new things. Adults also need to eat healthy and practice a healthy lifestyle to optimize their cognitive abilities.
- Differentiate instruction and visual aids so that it is appropriate for all learning styles. Adults have different ways of learning, whether they are auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners. Adults need to receive instruction that involves the senses with which they learn best.
- Play games, do puzzles and practice analytical thinking. As adults age, cognitive functions can deteriorate if they are not used. To improve cognitive skills, adults need to be encouraged to use processes that relate to the skills sought.
How to Improve Cognitive Skills in Toddlers
By Chris Stevenson, eHow Contributor
Toddlers at 18 months begin to recognize and differentiate between objects and pictures.
Cognitive skills, when applied to toddlers, include activities that enhance fundamental mental abilities. The mental processes involved with cognition include learning and studying, memory and recall, reasoning, observation and comparing. Parents play the most important role in teaching cognitive skills to their toddler, which is done with patience, love, nurturing and support. Toddlers need exposure to stimuli, involving all of the senses, so their perceptions can develop fully. Cognitive skills are taught and repeated as necessary. Parents can improve their child’s cognitive skills by formulating a plan and spending a regular amount of time of learning and instruction with their child.
Things You’ll Need
- Toys (age appropriate)
- Picture books
- Adopt a supportive attitude and realize that praise goes hand in hand with interactive cognitive instruction with a young child. Practice patience and keep a calm demeanor during all play and learning activities. Trying to push the child too early to learn or absorb a specific task will create frustration and sometime anger on the child’s part. Use a reward system that will give the child confidence and instill an amount of pride in his accomplishments. Do not yell, threaten or become angry during a learning session — it sends confused signals.
- Reserve certain times of the morning, afternoon or evening when you will have quality time to spend with your child. The session should be long enough to impact the child’s awareness that this time is special and long enough to arouse interest. Do not follow a routine that mimics the same play and learning every time — vary the play toys, change the location, and add variety and surprise to the sessions. Keep the methods and techniques of learning and exploring relatively similar.
- Introduce your child to age-appropriate toys. Toddlers who have not achieved walking ability do well with building blocks, hammering toys, large puzzles, plastic keys, large picture books, and paper and crayons. Demonstrate the use of the toy and let the child explore her own interpretation of its function. Demonstrate another function of the toy, once the child has mastered a basic manipulation. Let the child watch you draw with a crayon, then encourage the same behavior, assisting with a guiding hand.
- Promote sorting activity. Small children have a natural tendency to sort and organize objects according to size, shape and color. Lay out dozens of crayons and help the child sort them according to length and color. Use different-colored and size balls or blocks. Help them sort soft objects from hard objects, introducing feel and touch. Sorting and organizing are the first skills that give a child a sense of accomplishment.
- Escort the child outdoors for a change environment. Toddlers love water activities, and you can have some sprinkle fun with a “peekaboo” hose that suddenly appears and sprinkles the child. Allow your child to sit in a small dirt pile, add some water and a round spatula spoon, and watch the fun begin when your child begins to mix the mud. Point out flying insects, such as moths and butterflies, pull up samples of grass, and pick flowers. Let the child walk or crawl through sand and tall grass, to experience the different textures. Show the child, by example, that the outside is very different from the inside and that it can be thrilling to explore.
- Read often to the child, which does not have to be during a regular play session, but as frequently as your time allows. Use large, colorful picture books. Enunciate the vowel sounds and point to important words that describe the characters in the book. Allow animation and expression to show on your face, a sign that you are both experiencing something thrilling — an adventure. Encourage the child to repeat words and point. The reading sessions involve the first learning steps in eye recognition, pronunciation and word association — skills that will assist in the preschool and kindergarten years.
How to Improve Cognitive Skills in Children
By Maribeth Pugh, eHow Contributor
Reading mentally stimulates children and can improve their writing.
Cognitive skills are necessary in everyday life and essential for decision-making, learning and processing information. According to Learning RX, 80% of learning struggles are due to one or more weaknesses of cognitive skills, which are basic brain skills that allow individuals to remember, think and learn. The core areas of cognitive skills are information processing speed, auditory processing, visual processing, long-term memory, short-term memory, logic and reasoning, and attention skills. Children with weak mental skills may struggle and have a difficult time grasping new information which can lead to slower learning.
- Exercise on a regular basis to improve thinking, planning and math skills. According to Health Day, studies revealed a link between exercise and increased activity in parts of the brain associated with self-control and complex thinking. Sedentary lifestyles are not healthy, which may lead to children performing poorly in school and being overweight. When a child is moving or performing a physical activity, the mind is stimulated. Health Day also suggests a link between regular exercise and an increase in intelligence-test scores. Children may may gain small or large benefits depending on the amount of time spent exercising. They will benefit more by spending a minimum of 40 minutes a day being active.
- Engage in hand clapping and singing to improve motor and cognitive skills in children and college students.This activity involves listening, singing, dancing and clapping your hands to music. Elementary children who participate in singing tend to have neater handwriting, fewer spelling errors, and become overall better writers. Dr. Idit Sulkin of Ben-Gurion University suggests that children who do not participate in singing games are at risk of developing learning problems like dyscalculia and dyslexia. Such activities improve social skills and influence development in different areas of your brain. Children experience a developmental phase between the ages of 7 and 10. This phase is the best time to enhance a child’s sociological, emotional, cognitive, and physiological needs.
- Read books to children to help develop their cognitive skills. Skills such as memory, attention, self-regulation and symbolic thinking are necessary when learning to read. Reading teaches attentiveness because there is a need to distinguish between letters. It also improves memory since you have to remember the previous words before moving to the next ones. Not remembering the words can result in poor comprehension. Cognitive skills continue to improve with constant reading.
- Get ideas about children’s interests by paying attention to their favorite books and movies. If your son shows an interest in martial arts, you can expand on it by enrolling him in a karate class.If your daughter likes watching competitive gymnastics, enroll her in a gymnastics class at an early age. Learning a new activity can teach your child independence, goal-setting, and may even improve social skills.