|Preschoolers are known for their curiosity. So many of the things surrounding them constitute brand new experiences while their own capacity to take in and process the world is constantly being updated! Because of this, around 3 or 4 years of age, you’ll probably notice that your daughter is suddenly very invested in knowing how things work. Since she relies on trusted and loved people to help her figure out the world’s mysteries, at this developmental stage your child will be asking lots and lots of questions, from the mundane and seemingly simple, to literally rocket science.
It is vital for your little girl’s cognitive development that she feels comfortable asking questions, because by doing so she is taking an active role in learning. According to the book Transdisciplinary play-based assessment, by developmental psychologist Toni Linder, between 26 to 32 months your child will begin asking “where” questions, at around 40 months of age she will do “who” inquiries, and then around 42 to 49 months of age, you can expect her to start asking you “when” and “why” questions.
Here are some tips on how to encourage your child’s reasoning and curiosity skills:
|Every time you answer one of your son’s questions, you are actually fostering his cognitive development! Specifically, your kid’s reasoning and problem-solving skills which, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, are developed between 36 and 48 months of age.
A developmental psychologist and researcher from the University of California, doctor Michelle Chouinard, decided to study further how kids use questions in order to solve problems. In 2007, she looked at the link between the children’s questions and whether or not they actually gained new information from the answers in order to solve a problem. A group of 4-year-olds were asked to figure out what a hidden object inside a box was. Half of them were allowed to ask questions about the object to help themselves, while the other half had to guess blindly. As you can imagine, there were lots of different ways in which the young kids could’ve used the questioning opportunity in distracting ways, but this wasn’t what happened! Children that asked questions were significantly more likely to identify the hidden object, which indicates that preschoolers actually use the new information to change what they know about a problem in a way that allows them to solve it.
What this study tells us is that question-asking is one of the ways in which preschool children naturally learn about the world. The questions they ask might seem random, but in fact they are directly related to both their surroundings and stimuli, and where they are in their cognitive development. You can expect your kid’s questions to get more complex as he ages, but also you will soon start to notice that your little one draw conclusions without having to ask you for the answer. So, enjoy this moment and remember that your kid’s capacity to ask questions is a very powerful tool that will accompany him throughout his life through curiosity, problem solving and conceptual reasoning skills.
|After hitting the 24-month mark, you might notice that your toddler’s verbal and cognitive skills have developed so much and so quickly, that she is starting to be increasingly interested in understanding how things work, especially how they relate to one another. In fact, you might have become so accustomed to hearing the “why” question coming out of your little one’s mouth, that you even hear it in your dreams. Although sometimes it might be complicated to answer a young child’s emerging questions all day-round, the answers they receive are precious to them as they are their main source of information to understand the world.
Following the American Academy of Pediatrics guides about early childhood development, the endless “why” inquiries mean that your daughter is working on building cognitive skills that will later allow her to solve problems and think using abstract concepts and categories.
In fact, many cognitive psychologists wondered about how asking questions can help children’s development. In 2007, Michelle Chouinard from the University of California analyzed the way children formulated questions and what they did with the newfound knowledge. She found that kids between 2 and 5 years of age indeed ask questions with the intention of understanding something, it’s not just to get an adult’s attention for a moment. She also discovered that the type of questions and the complexity of the answers a kid deems satisfactory changed over time. Older children have more developed conceptual and abstract thinking skills that allow them to seek answers that go beyond describing something. They actually inquire about cause-and-effect relationships. Amazing, right?
|As adults, our understanding of the world relies on our ability to differentiate appearances from reality. We know from experience that not everything is what it seems. For young children this is not always as clear, as they sometimes seem to confuse reality with appearances. Can my 3-year-old girl already tell the difference between them? Let’s take a look at what developmental science says about it.
In 2006, psychologist Gedeon Deák from the University of California at San Diego investigated the extent to which preschool children understand the difference between appearances and reality, as well as between reality and fantasy. He discovered that as early as 3 years of age, children are capable of discriminating reality from misleading appearances in multiple tasks. What was interesting was that he observed that preschoolers could easily and accurately describe real and fantastical or fake aspects of an object or situation, but their failing to do so depended not on their cognitive capacities, but on how understandable and clear were the questions about the objects. This led him to suggest that, even if 3 or 4-year-olds can seem challenged to represent reality in their minds, they are, in fact, naturally and flexibly describing appearances and an independent and different reality. Your young child’s mind is already capable of more than what’s easily assessed! Impressive, right?
You want to read more about your preschooler’s capacity for differentiating between reality and fantasy? Here you can read the full article referenced above:
|Have your ever wondered how did that your 3 or 4-year-old develop his understanding of characteristics and proprieties? When your little one pinches soft food with a fork and feeds himself, does he actually understand how eating utensils are used or is this behavior pure imitation? In what moment is this cognitive milestone achieved? In this article, we’re going to talk about how preschoolers develop their ability to find relationships and patterns between objects, their physical characteristics and their abstract proprieties.
Around the 3 years mark, children are still learning to identify and classify objects by their shape and color, amongst other physical characteristics. Between 3 and 4 years of age, kids start to develop a more complex understanding of objects and their abstract qualities, like how they are used and what are they for. Older children and adults, on the other hand, think effortlessly in terms of function and complex cause-and-effect relationships.
A team of psychology researchers from the University of California in San Diego, Vanderbilt University and the University of Minnesota investigated when and how preschoolers start using abstract information to relate the daily life objects that surround them. In 2002, they conducted a study in which they presented common kitchen utensils to 3 and 4-year-olds, instructed them to match the objects by shape or function, and then observed the kid’s responses.
They found that 4-year-old kids had no problem following either rule, but 3-year-olds got lost when trying to identify objects by their function. Nonetheless, if no instruction was given, 4-year-olds tended to match by shape unless prompted otherwise. This showed that by this age, most kids can understand both shape and function of objects to which they are frequently exposed to. They concluded that kids around 36 to 48 months are developing their conceptual and abstract thinking skills, and that their cognitive abilities are measurably different in this short lapse of moths.
If you want to dive deep into the research on preschooler’s cognitive development, here’s the article mentioned above:
|Young children are the definition of fast learners! When they are just 12 months old, they are already taking in as much information as possible about the world that surrounds them and the objects within it.
With all the information they gathered in their first years of life, kids around 3 and 4 years old are ready to start understanding that objects have specific functions, and how to use them properly. You might be witnessing this when your preschooler starts using a fork to feed herself or when she starts playing with mechanical toys and understands how to make buttons, levers, and moving parts work. When your young child uses daily objects with an objective, that’s an indicator that she is setting the bases for what will later be the understanding of cause and effect.
Researchers from the Cognitive Development Lab of the University of California at San Diego have found that between 3 and 5 years old, children acquire the understanding of the abstract concept of “function”, learn that every created object is defined by its use and that the same object can be used for multiple purposes. This age marks a very important developmental mark for your child’s learning of how the world works.
You can encourage your daughter’s intentional use of objects and her problem-solving skills with some of the following ideas:
|The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, between 36 and 48 months of age, children start developing their conceptual reasoning skills. These set is crucial for categorizing the information they get from the world, and for organizing it according to the characteristics of every object.
A big part of conceptual reasoning involves understanding the implicit mathematical ideas behind the differences, similitudes and relationships of more vs less. Around this age, your child is working hard at understanding the concepts of size (big vs small), distance (close vs far), speed (fast vs slow), height (high vs low), weight (heavy vs light) and order (first vs last). Apart from pointing out these characteristics, so that your child starts noticing them, it’s important to support his understanding of the numerical concepts organizing these ideas.
Here are some tips and ideas on how to use implicit math concepts when talking about your day or describing something you are seeing:
|According to the Cognitive Development Lab of the University of California at San Diego, children go through some dramatic cognitive changes during their preschool years. Approaching 4 years of age they have already developed enough mobility, physical strength, emotional independence and vocabulary to process a vast new array of information about their world: their name and age, who is part of their family, what games they like, who are their favorite characters, the routines they have during the day, etc. But in order to continue their development, they now need to gain the necessary skills to organize all that new information.
We all organize what we take in from the world as categories and concepts, but these cognitive skills take years in the making. Kids start developing their conceptual reasoning skills around 48 months old and this allows them to understand the characteristics of the objects that are around them in a way that, afterwards, will allow them to solve everyday problems. Understanding concepts is what allows young children to discriminate between things that are edible and things that are not, the implications of hot and cold, and that birds fly in the sky but they can’t do so below the ocean.
There are lots of things you can do to support and encourage this important developmental process in your child! One idea could be labeling things you see in daily life and connecting the word to its characteristics so that your child notices the connection. For example, depending on your child’s age, you can start small and simply help her notice characteristics by saying “What a pretty insect! Insects are small”, or “Oh! It’s cold today! Let’s have a hot breakfast”, and then move to more complex things like “Look, it’s a bird! Birds fly in the sky, like we walk on the ground”.
|An important aspect of your kid’s cognitive development between the age of 3 and 4 is the development of different aspects of her reasoning skills, like her ability to apply math concepts in different areas of her life. This is called numeracy, also known as math skills.
Before reaching the 48-month mark, many children know three or four numbers and have a pretty good understanding of counting. That might allow them to answer simple questions like “how many cookies are there?”. According to the Raising Children Network, kids start learning the bases for what will later be their math skills from the day they arrive into the world, both by watching and by playing.
Here are some ideas on how you can help your daughter develop her early math skills, according to the 36-48 months recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
If you want to check-out more ideas on how to boost your little girl’s early math skills, you can check out the Kinedu catalogue and search under “Conceptual reasoning skills”.
|In the last couple of years, your child has been working very hard at learning postural control, moving more independently, trying out his language skills by speaking the celebrated first words and being more communicative with gestures. All the experiences your little one has had so far have contributed to his cognitive development, and there are very exciting milestones coming in the near future!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, between 24 and 36 months of age your kid will start learning about the different characteristics of the objects that surround him, and will be able to identify and sort objects by their size, shape or color. At around 36 months old, you’ll start to notice how your son is very interested in how things work and will now enjoy playing with mechanical toys, completing simple four-pieced puzzles and will engage in increasingly complex imaginative play where he might ask you or other friends to partake in the fantastical adventure. Approaching the 48 months mark, your little one will be giving personal concerts by singing entire songs from memory, will be able to play simple board games with you, he will have mastered his attention skills to remember and retell parts of a loved story, and will have a clearer sense of time and of numerical concepts.
So, having refreshed all the amazing feats your child is working towards in his cognitive development, you can check the Kinedu app for some ideas on how to further boost your little one’s development.