How to Improve your toddler’s Cognitive Skills

Cognitive Skills Development Activities for 2 to 7 years old Children  

When your child turns two, she enters the 2nd phase of cognitive skills development, i.e., Pre-Operational stage. This phase lasts from 2 to 7 years of age. The beginning of pre-operational stage is characterised by the emergence of language as a child developmental hallmark. However, continuing from earlier sensorimotor stage, your child is now ready to learn new things through observation, behavioural imitation and meaningful understanding. As the child has already initiated imitating others, to some extent, the fantasy-role play begins during this pre-operational phase. Along this line, she also starts learning about various things such as naming body parts, naming animals, simple day-to-day things, etc. during this stage of cognitive development.

Pre-operational Stage – Developing more Knowledge and Understanding to boost cognitive skills :

As your child grows and starts going to school (and even during pre-school years) she keeps developing more knowledge and understanding. Though her brain is able to grasp things and understand concrete concepts fast in this early childhood development stage, yet her little brain is not fully developed to gain insight of logic and hypothetical situations. As your child struggles with an organised logical way of thinking, she finds it difficult to view things from other’s perspective and gains this with time.

However, with certain activities at home, the functional aspects of the cognitive faculties can be strengthened and enhanced. The activities that can be done with a child, aged between 3 to 7 years, is mentioned below:

Activity 1 – Playing with clay

Age Group – 2 – 4.5 years

Time required – 5-10 minutes

Complexity level – Simple

Materials needed – Colourful clay dough

Process – 

  • Take clay dough and divide it into two equal proportion. Give one part a compact round shape, and the other part a flat shape. 
  • Ask your child, “Which one is bigger?” She is more likely to choose the flatter shape as apparent it looks bigger than the round one. Your child here is unable to understand the logical concept of two equal clay proportions getting different shapes. She tends to observe that which shape looks bigger from superficial perspective. 
  • To train your child to understand this logical concept of equal division, repeat this activity where now you are going to divide clay again in equal halves or can actually ask your child to do it by herself. Then scrutinise together with her and prompt her with hints like, how nicely the clay has been divided into equal part. This will boost her cognitive skills
  • Then ask your child to give the clay dough parts different shapes and find out which one looks bigger. You can ask questions like, ‘Is this shape really bigger than the other, or it is looking bigger because of its shape? As we have made both from the same amount of clay!’ Such verbal prompting will help her develop the understanding of logical analogy faster.

Learning impact – Logical view of things, Observing from different perspective, Sensory skill, Focus building

Skill benefits – Understanding, Comprehension, Perspective taking, Tactile skill, Visual skill, Attention skill

During pre-operational stage, children have learnt to grasp things but struggle with organised logical way of thinking. Simple at-home activities can help bolster this logical planning.

Activity 2 – Be it to feel it

Age Group –  5 – 7.5 years

Time required – 10 minutes

Complexity level – Moderate

Materials needed-

  1. Any place free from potential hazard
  2. Few pre-planned situations / objects / relation specific name
  3. Example: Situation – When child pluck leaves and flowers from a plant; Object – Doll; Human relation – Mother / Teacher


  • During a fun-filled time introduce the activity to your child. 
  • Ask your child to play the role of any specific thing to know how it feels to be in that place. For example, talk to your child about the time when you observed her plucking flowers or leaves from a plant. Then ask your child to be that plant for some amount of time. Instruct her to be in a static posture for a required amount of time and symbolise flowers and leaves with hands and fingers. 
  • In that position ask her how she will feel if you stretch and pull her hands and fingers a little forcefully as they symbolise flower / leaves now. Obvious answer will be to feel pain.
  • Make your child understand on this line that plant also have life, it too feels pain, etc.

Another example of role playing to boost cognitive skills could be –

 Ask your child to act like her mother or teacher when she scolded her for doing something naughty and that made her feel real upset. This way when she plays the role of the opposite person / object, she starts understanding how it feels to be in the opposite side. Hence your child start developing concepts related to different situations and viewpoints.

Learning impact – Situational understanding, See from different perspective, Develops understanding related to other people’s view point and emotion.

Skill benefits – Understanding, Comprehending, Perspective taking, Thinking, Empathy building, Patience–all a part of cognitive skills.

If there are any other activities that have worked for you in boosting your kids cognitive skills, we would be glad to hear that.

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