Strategies to Support Cognitive Development and Learning
Infants and toddlers will learn about themselves, about being in relationships with other people, and many of the basic concepts they need to learn about the world. You can assist them with the following strategies: 1. Help infants maintain a quiet, alert state of attention by keeping them in comfortable positions, talking quietly, and looking at things together. 2. Help toddlers to keep focused and attentive by limiting distractions and interruptions. Express interest in their activities and try to observe and reflect on what you believe they are trying to accomplish. 3. Spark curiosity by offering materials in new ways, such as setting the dolls up in the book corner “reading” books, or the farm animals on a green cloth over blocks creating a gentle hill. 4. Spark curiosity by noticing things and suggesting, “Let’s go see what that is!” 5. Support mastery motivation by offering materials that are challenging enough to be interesting but not impossible, by offering a few choices, and by expressing your interest and encouragement. 6. Support mastery motivation by sharing the joy children feel as they show you their accomplishments. 7. Support sensorimotor learning by offering play and exploration experiences that provide a variety of sensory modes: sand, water, cornstarch, smelling bottles, and so forth. 8. Help children develop memories by keeping the routine and room arrangement predictable; keep toys where children know to find them. 9. Talk with children about what they did earlier in the day or the day before. 10. Provide many opportunities to categorize, match, sort, compare, and contrast with toys and activities. 11. Encourage problem solving by not stepping in immediately when a problem occurs—for example, if a child can’t reach the ball that has rolled behind the slide, ask, “What can we do?” and let the child try to figure it out. 12. Play games like peek-a-boo, read stories about mommies being gone and coming back, read books with pictures hidden under flaps to encourage the development of object permanence. 13. Provide toys that respond contingently to a child’s actions, such as balls, busy boxes, or push lights to encourage the understanding of cause and effect. 14. Provide toys and materials such as stacking cups, rings on a post, little houses, or tunnels to crawl through to encourage understanding of use of space. 15. Provide markers, paint, water, replicas of household tools, play telephones, keys, and so forth, to promote understanding of use of tools. 16. Provide language, ideas, and materials in ways that make the child’s play just a little more elaborate and complex, scaffolding the child’s play to the next level. 17. Provide toys and language to introduce awareness of shapes, comparative sizes, amounts, numbers, and one-to-one correspondence. Talk about concepts of time such as today, now, later, before, and after.
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