How to Promote Cognitive Development in Toddlers

As parents, we want to ensure our children are off to the best possible start in life, especially when it comes to their cognitive development. Cognitive development refers to one’s mental abilities, such as thinking, learning and understanding. Promoting cognitive development in toddlers is one key way to help them reach their potential and achieve important developmental milestones. 


Children's cognitive abilities begin to develop even before birth, and continue to develop as they grow. There is a wide range of cognitive developmental milestones that kids will reach as they grow. These include speaking their first words, recognizing shapes, exercising their imaginations using toys like playdough or blocks, learning numbers and letters, and more. As a parent, there are several things you can do to enrich your little one’s cognitive development. Here are six tips to help you get started.


Encourage children to solve problems independently

One of the main facets of toddler cognitive development is exercising independence and learning to solve problems. Toddlers learn by experimenting and trying new things. For example, they come to figure out that the cat food is not a toy, or how to navigate a block tower you just built together. If you observe that your little one needs help, provide encouragement as they explore different solutions.


For example, if your child is having trouble opening a door, resist the urge to immediately reach for the handle and open the door yourself. Instead, say something like, "Let's see how many ways we can try this." Then have your child try to push on the door with one hand while turning the knob with the other. Your child will learn through trial and error how to open the door.


Create opportunities for pretend play in addition to structured learning activities

As toddlers' cognitive development progresses, they gain new skills. One of these is the ability to play “pretend”. Pretend play refers to a type of imaginative play wherein a child pretends to be something or someone else. For example, your child may pretend a block is a car. This cognitive skill goes beyond just using one’s imagination. It also incorporates the ability to take into account another person's perspective and react accordingly.


Make sure your child is given ample opportunities for pretend play. Provide them with dress-up clothes, or have them pretend to cook dinner in a play kitchen. You can also join in the fun and make it a fun family bonding activity!


Read books together daily

Reading books is an excellent tool that enriches  cognitive development. Stories provide plenty of cognitive stimulation and opportunities for language development while encouraging imagination and creativity.


Make sure there are plenty of books accessible to your toddler. This helps children develop an interest in reading independently. You can also ask questions about each story, and discuss the pictures in the books to help expand your toddler's cognitive skills.


Help your child learn their colors, numbers, and letter with flashcards or small toys

Toddler cognitive development is all about discovering the world around them. You can help enhance your little one’s cognitive abilities by introducing stimulating activities, such as flashcards. These are especially great for cognitive development because items with words on them tend to catch a toddler's eye more effectively than just images alone. 


Utilize other educational toys too, such as building blocks and legos. These types of toys can help your child learn about shapes, colors, and sorting. All of these skills are important components of children’s developing cognitive abilities.


Give your toddler daily opportunities to participate in physical activities

Physical activity gives cognitive development in toddlers a boost in many ways. Regular exercise gives kids the cognitive stimulation that comes from being active. It also helps by improving children’s ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Physical activity can even boost creativity!


Encourage your toddler to participate in physical activities by giving them plenty of open space and time outside to run around and play each day. You can also be creative  with other physical activities, like dancing or playing sports together as a family.


Visit stimulating places, like museums and zoos

Visiting places like museums and zoos can be a great way to enrich your little one’s cognitive development. Stimulation provided by these types of activities has numerous cognitive benefits, and they also help with fostering creativity and imagination!


Museums provide plenty of cognitive stimulation throughout their unique exhibits, whether you go to see old photographs or preserved animals. Cognitive development refers to mental abilities – thinking, learning and understanding. Visiting a museum can inspire your child to think about the past, and encourage curiosity.


Going to the zoo is another fantastic option that can stimulate toddlers’ cognitive development. Zoos can activate your child's imagination and offer interactive displays in which children learn about different types of animals up close and safely.

At Carepointe Academy, we ensure children’s minds can blossom with the help of teachers who encourage problem-solving and thinking. Our methods go far beyond the approach of a typical child care center. Visit our website to learn more.

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To book a tour and/or start the admission's process at Carepointe, contact our Admissions Director, Brad Harris, at or call him direct at 260-417-6494.