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Cognitive Development


Cognitive development is the fifth domain in the ECIPs.  The definition of Cognitive Development according to WebMD.com, “is a field of study in neuroscience and psychology focusing on a child’s development in terms of information processing, conceptual resources, perceptual skill, language learning, and other aspects of brain development and cognitive psychology compared to an adult’s point of view.”  I know you’re thinking to yourself, WHAT??  I know that is what I thought when I first read the definition but as you break down the components with the indicators its really does start to make more sense.

The first component to Cognitive Development is Mathematical and Logical Thinking.  The indicators are demonstrate increasing interest in and awareness of numbers and counting, demonstrate understanding of one-to-one correspondence between objects and numbers, demonstrate the ability to count in sequence, demonstrate ability to state the number that comes next up to 9 or 10, and finally demonstrate the beginning ability to combine and separate numbers of objects.   As I read these I thought to myself these seem pretty easy, but when I actually sat down with a child and worked on these with a child who was 5 it wasn’t easy as I thought.  This child could barely count to 5 much less be able to separate a certain number of objects.  I personally thought this was really upsetting so I took it upon myself to work with this child and we counted every day and it amazed me how much he grew in such a short amount of time

The next part to this component is Patterns and relationships.  The indicators include recognize and duplicate simple patters, sort objects into subgroups by one or two characteristics, and order or sequence several objects on the basis of one characteristics.

  • What is next?

The third part to this component is spatial relationships/geometry.  The indicators include identify and name common shapes, and use words that show understanding of order and position of the objects.  Next is Measurement.  The indicators are recognize objects can be measure by height, length, weight, and time and make comparisons between at least two groups of objects. The final part is mathematical reasoning.  In order for a child to meet this they need to be able to use simple strategies to solve mathematical problems.


This domain is tricky because it has three components, but there are several pieces to each of these components.

The next component is Scientific Thinking and Problem-Solving.  The first part to this component is observing.  The indicators include; uses senses to explore materials and the environment, and identify and/or describe objects by physical characteristics.

The second part to this component is questioning.  The indicators to this include; express wonder about the natural world, ask questions and see answers through active exploration, and make predictions about objects and natural events.

The last part to this component is investigating.  The indicators include use tools (e.g., magnifying glass, binoculars, maps) for investigation of the environment, and make comparisons between objects that have been collected or observed.

The last component to this domain is Social Systems Understanding.  The first part of this component is human relationships.  The indicators include; recognize and appreciate similarities and differences between self and others from diverse backgrounds, understand various family roles, jobs, rules, and relationships, and participate in activities to help others in the community.


threes-2The final piece to this domain and the second part to social systems understandings is; Understanding the World.  The indicators are recognize and describe the roles of works in the community, share responsibility in taking care of their environment, begin to recall recent and past events, identify characteristics of the places where they live and play within their community, and finally being to understand the use of media and technology and how they affect their lives.

I personally have a hard time with the last part of this domain.  I don’t think preschoolers need to be exposed to technology.  They need to learn to play without this, but it’s the age of technology and I am just old school I guess.  In my daycare I limit our use of technology and only use it for special occasions.

Here are a few activities you can do with your children to promote cognitive development;

Stringing Beads

About the Activity: Beyond the ability to string beads or pasta, the activity is now about making jewelry. Your child can end up with a necklace and/or a bracelet to wear. These can be made out of store-bought beads, the home equivalent of plain pasta, or pasta dipped in food coloring. Other ideas for stringing are Cheerios, popcorn, and cranberries.

How to Play: Collect beads or pasta the right size for stringing or other materials if desired. Cut the strings larger than necessary to make necklaces and bracelets so that they will still fit after being knotted on one end and tied on the other. Rigatoni is the largest size pasta recommended for younger children who have beginning fine motor development. Patterns can be part of this activity, either with colors, shapes, or Sizes.

Playing Detective

About the Activity: This one is great for those times you are waiting. You can do this at home, in a restaurant, in a doctor’s office, or at any place where you have unexpected time to pass.

How to Play: Choose a category like a color or a shape. Then take turns finding an example in the place in which you are. At first there may seem like there are only one or two examples in sight. However, once you get used to the play, both of you are likely to find more and more.


About the Activity: This is a great time to begin focusing on introducing your child to the world of numbers. Beginning skills in counting, adding, subtracting, and dividing can become a part of everyday conversations.

How to Play: Look around your house for groups of items. You might find two candlesticks, seven pencils, three hats, or a dozen roses. Take time to count such items. A popular plaything is paper cups. Suggested is to take ten of these and then have fun as you count them, stack them, build with them, or even hide items under them. You might also find ways to add them, subtract them, and even divide these paper cups.

**These activities are from education.com***

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