Cognitive – how we think|
“It is not the same as intelligence. It is “the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving, and decision-making, from childhood through adolescence to adulthood.” – Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health
Cognitive development is the process of how youth acquire knowledge. This encompasses how they learn to think, reason, explore, and problem solve. Youth are naturally curious and have an inborn desire to understand and investigate the world around them. They will do so by using their senses, classifying and sequencing skills, and their understanding of cause and effect.
As youth grow, their capacity for thought increases as do their needs for more challenges. Healthy cognitive development is dependent on youth also growing in other areas such as their physical and emotional growth plus positive social interactions. It is also important for youth workers to understand youth’s thinking will begin to resemble that of adults during the school-age years.
To help youth grow cognitively youth workers must understand how youth think and learn – and what they already know. As with all discussions about development, it is important to remember that youth will not fit nicely into little boxes. Each youth is an individual who will develop at his or her own rate. As such, it is crucial that you recognize the information below as general guidelines about the cognitive abilities of that age group. There are no hard and fast rules.
Activities to Promote Cognitive Development:
Click on the name of the activity to go to the website for more detail. Bold letters in parentheses indicate the age group (I = Infant, T = Toddler, P = Preschooler, S = School-ager, A = Adolescent) for which the activity is targeted. Of course, with modifications the activity can be appropriate for other age groups as well.