Have you ever thought about how we’re able to read, learn, explore, think, remember, reason, or even pay attention to things around us? It’s our cognitive skills that help us to function and perform such necessary tasks.
Cognitive skills are a set of necessary skills which are essential for your brain to perform different tasks. These skills are required no matter how simple or how complex a task is. Cognitive skills improve the cognitive function of a brain, which helps the brain gather relevant information, ignore non-relevant information, and process it to perform a specific activity.
Having strong cognitive skills is essential to perform well at school, at work, and in daily life. Children’s cognitive skills improve as they grow over the years. Therefore, early childhood education must involve the use of activities that help in improving the cognitive skills of children.
A host of cognitive skills help the human brain carry out different cognitive processes with ease. Read on to know some examples of cognitive skills that are essential for human functioning.
Examples of cognitive skills that assist in learning
In this section, we will discuss a few examples of cognitive skills that children and adults use in their daily lives. Without these skills, even simple tasks can get pretty challenging. So, let us look at them one by one.
Paying attention is a cognitive skill that improves with time. This is the reason why you see preschoolers having an attention span of approximately 10 to 15 minutes compared to adolescents who can work on a specific task for 45 minutes or longer. Apart from paying attention to one activity, developing the skill of selective attention and divided attention is equally important. Selective attention allows a child to selectively focus their attention on something without being distracted by surroundings. Divided attention helps the child concentrate on two things at a time to perform the tasks simultaneously.
Memory can be divided into long-term memory and working memory. Long-term memory helps a child to recollect past information, whereas working memory enables the child to utilize a particular piece of information while working on a specific task. Working memory can handle only a limited amount of information at a time. Having a strong memory is important for improved cognitive processes. Lack of this essential skill will result in kids no longer being able to remember their childhood memories.
3. Logic and reasoning
Logical thinking is a cognitive skill that supports a person’s reasoning abilities. Logical thinking gives children the ability to solve a particular problem in a structured way. They are able to use their logic to reach conclusions. Kids with good logic and reasoning abilities know what to do next and how to deal with problems if they get stuck at something.
4. Processing speed
Processing speed or thinking speed reflects the amount of time a person requires to absorb a piece of specific information, analyze it, and offer a suitable response. Good thinking skills can make life easier. For example, answering a question in class or ordering a meal in the school canteen becomes easier if kids have good processing speed as they can process given information and respond quickly.
Why do people have different perceptions? It is because every person has their own way of interpreting information and responding to stimuli. The cognitive skill of perception allows you to understand information and make sense of it using visual, auditory, touch, smell, and taste senses. It is therefore essential to provide kids with opportunities to use their senses to build their perceptions of things around them.
Sequencing is another cognitive skill that helps our brain arrange pieces of information in sequential order for better understanding. Children utilize this skill to learn the alphabet, count numbers, and even understand what is said to them. Students with poor sequencing skills may have difficulty understanding step-by-step instructions given by a teacher. They may even get disinterested in a particular lesson because they cannot understand and grasp information in sequential order.
7. Decision making
Decision-making is a crucial aspect of life. We all have to make decisions each day depending on the circumstances and priorities. The skill of decision-making is not only crucial for adults but is equally important for children. We often find kids making decisions when asked whether they wish to go to a park or a movie, the toy they want to play with, or the question they would like to attempt first in an assessment. Hence, refining decision-making skills is also something that must be worked on.
Communication is a highly complex skill set that helps a person work on their thought processes and communicate meaningfully with other people. People with poor communication skills have difficulty interacting with others, which also hinders their growth in the personal and professional sphere. Parents must constantly work with their kids to help them get better at communicating by using proper language at home. Teachers can improve the communication skills of children by giving them opportunities to express themselves through writing and speaking.
The ability to imagine things is a skill that is not only necessary in childhood but for the rest of our lives. Imagination can help in problem-solving, strategizing, and decision-making. It can also help in improving the creative quotient of a person. Providing lots of imaginative play opportunities to kids is a great way of fine-tuning this cognitive skill.
10. Visual thinking
Picture thinking or commonly called visual thinking is the ability to think through visual processing. It is a vital skill for developing new ideas and working on them. Being able to visualize things allows a person to think and drive relevant information. Interior designers and architects with good visual thinking abilities tend to do well in their profession.
11. Spatial awareness
Spatial awareness is understanding the position of your body in space in relation to other objects in the surroundings. This cognitive skill is essential to help a person understand and respond when the position of an object is changed. It helps children navigate space easily, understand directions, read maps, play sports, and help adults drive cars, operate tools, etc.
12. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the cognitive ability that helps you understand your emotions and manage them effectively. Emotional intelligence is necessary for maintaining interpersonal relationships and good emotional behavior. Children develop emotional intelligence over time. Higher emotional intelligence helps children manage stress, handle relationships, solve problems without getting intimidated, and interact with people while keeping in mind their emotional requirements.
As you can see, cognitive skills are a culmination of all the skills mentioned above. Through this, we can clearly infer how important these skills are for any person. Providing opportunities to the brain to practice these skills helps a person get better at them. It is somewhat similar to working your muscles at the gym so that you can build strength and use them more efficiently.
So, whether a child is walking in the park, solving a mathematical question, or simply trying to recollect where they kept their favorite toy, they are using their cognitive skills to accomplish these tasks. Therefore, parents and teachers must provide opportunities for their kids to work on these skills on a day-to-day basis.