Cognitive Development Part 2: Years Four Through Six

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In the first article of this series we discussed some of the cognitive developments taking place in the first three years of a child’s life. The next three years are equally exciting, and equally crucial to mental growth. Though the first three years may contain some of the most iconic milestones (first word, first step, first tooth etc.), years four through six are when your little bundle of joy somehow transforms into a questioning, reasoning human being.

Cognitive Development Part 2

Children at this stage have an insatiable curiosity and a fundamental desire to understand the world around them. This is when your relationship with your child begins to deepen. You’ll see changes in their abilities almost daily; be prepared to be astonished and proud.

Naturally, every parent wants to make the most of this remarkable period and to make sure that their child gets the care that they need to nurture their young mind. Once again, we spoke with developmental expert Naresh Indhewat of BrainFit Studio (2F Ploenchit Center, Sukhumvit Soi 2; 66-2/656-9938-9).

What you should expect during these years

One of the most important changes during this time is that children first begin to read.

“At 6 years old a child’s eye-muscles should begin to be able to track from left to right in a straight-line more accurately, including improved visual perception. Therefore we see great improvements in children’s reading skills around this age,” Indhewat says.

Reading is not an isolated skill though. As with the first three years of a child’s life, auditory comprehension is crucial. All toddlers first begin to identify and emulate language patterns through what they hear around them. How well they can process spoken language will have a tremendous impact on their ability to read during this period.

Indhewat adds that “[A child’s] ability to read is also linked to the ability to accurately process language sounds. When we read, the brain first translates the letters we see to sounds, then to the associated meaning. If a child has poor auditory processing, they usually go on to develop reading issues.”In other words, face time, personal interaction and verbal use of vocabulary are still essential.

This is also an ideal time to introduce a second language if you want your child to be bilingual. Although experts debate whether learning two languages at the same time is beneficial for infants, most agree that after age four, your child can and should start learning other languages.

What to look for in an educational program for this age

Because these three years are so valuable in terms of overall development, it’s important to choose the right sort of program. According to Indhewat, “A good educational program should provide courses that are intensive and scientifically proven to work. And since each child is different, effective activities should adapt to each child’s strengths and weaknesses, and it should be fun and engaging. It is far better to spend valuable time doing purposeful activities towards some kind of developmental outcome. These should also be activities that your child enjoys.”

In other words, school can be fun, and effective. You want something highly engaging, that caters to your young child’s high levels of energy and engages their curiosity.

Photo Credit: DarrelBirkett via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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