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5 Ways to Foster Cognitive Development in Children

I recently attended the Discover Together Symposium at Disneyland. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts invited nearly 60 nonprofit organizations from around the U.S. to participate in this symposium, which included one day dedicated to the unveiling of new research on helping children succeed. There was a wealth of knowledge shared, as Disney supports community organizations that provide opportunities for children to learn and grow.

a family at disney

One of the most interesting set of data that was shared looked how ways to foster cognitive development and learning. Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Take opportunities to talk to your child, even before they start talking. Label objects that your child is interested in and narrate your activities as your child observes.
  • Once children begin to talk, ask them open-ended questions to stimulate conversation. Try to ask questions that have more than one answer, and look for experience you can share that allow for rich conversation.
  • Pay close attention to how you praise your child. Try to focus on the processes your child used, like effort and good choices, to foster a growth mindset. Let the praise focus on their hard work rather than on intelligence or talent.
  • Play games with your children that foster planning, self-control, and attention, For younger ages, Red Light Green Light and Simon Says are great games that encourage kids to use self-control. For older kids, games like checkers, chess, and Monopoly help reinforce attention, planning, and memory skills.
  • Engage in fun activities that involve planning skills. Cooking can be a great way to help your child plan, as they contemplate what to cook, create a shopping list, and follow a recipe. When you are working on a ask that requires several steps, let your child participate as much as possible.

For more information on the research on children from the Discover Together Symposium, click here.

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