Cognitive milestones represent important steps forward in a child’s development. Throughout human history, babies were often thought of as simple, passive beings, and before the 20th century, children were often viewed as miniature versions of adults. But psychologists like Jean Piaget thought differently according to this way of thinking and saw childhood as a unique period for growth and development.
Adults often ignored the extraordinary intellectual skills of babies and very young children, but modern thinkers and researchers have found that babies actually always learn, think, and explore the world around them. Even newborn babies are actively learning and learning new things. In addition to gathering new information about babies and the world around them, babies are constantly discovering new things about themselves.
The Period from Birth to 3 Months
The first 3 months of a child’s life is a time of curiosity. Important developmental milestones in this age have focused on exploring the basic senses and learning more about the body and the environment. During this period, most babies develop as follows:
- Demonstrates anticipatory behavior, such as holding and sucking on a teat or bottle area
- Detects sound differences in pitch and volume
- Differentiates objects more clearly at 13 inches distance
- Focuses on moving objects, including caregivers’ faces
- Human sees all colors of the visual spectrum
- Differentiates sweet, salty, bitter and sour among flavors
- Uses facial expressions to respond to their environment.
3 to 6 Month Period
In early infancy, perceptual abilities are still developing. From 3-6 months, babies start to develop a stronger sense of perception. At this age, most babies show the following developments:
- Imitating facial expressions
- Reacts to familiar voices
- Begins to recognize familiar faces
- Responds to other people’s facial expressions.
6 to 9 Month Period
Taking care of a baby’s mind is not an easy task. After all, researchers cannot ask a baby what he is thinking at any given moment. To learn more about babies’ mental processes, researchers put forward a series of creative tasks that reveal the inner workings of the infant brain. At 6-9 months of age, researchers found that most babies showed the following improvements:
- Looking longer at impossible things such as an object suspended in the air
- Understanding the differences between pictures showing different numbers of objects
- Understanding the differences between living and non-living objects
- Use the relative size of an object to determine how far away it is
9 to 12 Month Period
As babies become more physically proficient, they can explore the world around them more in depth. Sitting, crawling, and walking are just some of the physical milestones for babies to better understand the world around them. By the age of 1 year, most babies can:
• Enjoy looking at picture books
• Imitates movements and some basic actions
• Replaces objects by inverting them, trying to put an object in another object.
• Responds with gestures and sounds
• Understands the concept of object persistence, the idea that an object continues to exist even if it cannot be seen.
1 to 2 Years Period
After the age of one, children’s physical, social and cognitive development increases rapidly. Children at this age spend a lot of time observing the actions of adults, so it is important for parents and caregivers to set examples of good behavior. Most one-year-old babies show the following improvements:
- Identifying similar objects
- Imitating adult actions and language
- Discovery learning
- Showing familiar objects and people in picture books
- Telling the difference between me and you
- Understanding and answering words
Period of 2 to 3 Years
By the age of 2, children are becoming increasingly independent. Too much learning at this stage is the result of their own experiences, as they are now able to explore the world better. Most two-year-olds can:
- Identifying their own reflections in the mirror with their names
- Imitating more complex adult actions (pretending to be a playhouse, laundry room, etc.)
- Matching objects to their usage
- Naming objects in a picture book
- Responding to simple instructions from parents and caregivers
- Sort objects by category (eg animals, flowers, trees, etc.)
• Sorting pile loops on a hook from smallest to smallest
3 to 4 Years Period
Children are able to analyze the world around them in an increasingly complex way. As they observe things, they begin to categorize and classify them into different categories, commonly referred to as schemas. As children become much more active in the learning process, they start asking questions about the world around them. “Why is that?” The question becomes a very common question at this time. At the age of three, most children can:
- Why asking questions for information
- Show awareness of the past and present
- Learning by observing and listening to instructions
- Have a longer attention span of about 5 to 15 minutes
- Organizing objects by size and shape
- Searching for answers to questions
- Understanding how to group and match the object by color
4-5 Years Period
As they approach school age, children get better at using words, imitating adult actions, counting, and other essential activities that are important for school readiness. Most four-year-olds can:
- Creating pictures that they frequently name and describe
- Counting to five
- Drawing a person’s shape
- Naming and describing many colors
- Do not tell where they live
How to Help Children Achieve Cognitive Milestones
For many parents, fostering children’s intellectual development is a major concern. Fortunately, children are eager to learn from the very beginning. While education will soon become an enormous part of a growing child’s life, these early years are often affected by close family relationships, particularly their parents and other caregivers. This means parents are in a unique position to help shape the way their children learn, think and develop. At home, parents can stimulate their children’s intellectual abilities by helping their children understand the world around them. When a baby shows interest in an object, parents can help the child touch and explore the item as well as tell what happened to the object. For example, when a baby looks intently at the toy rattles, the parent can pick up the item and ask the baby if you want my rattle, then shake the rattle to show what he’s doing.
As children grow up, parents should continue to encourage their children to actively explore the world. It is necessary to be patient with young children with an endless array of questions about each and everything around. Parents can also ask their own questions to help children become more creative problem solvers. When parents are faced with a dilemma, they must allow their children to find original solutions to problems. In this way, they can help promote both the intellectual development and self-confidence of their children.