Middle Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Category — 2.2 Six to Eight 6-12: Cognitive Development

Cognitive Development

Children 6 to 8 years old continually develop and grow. Cognitive development (see full Glossary) becomes increasingly complex as children continue to learn how to make sense of the world around them. This is also a busy time for picking up academic skills. Children are learning how to read, write, spell and perform simple mathematical operations. They are beginning to read simple books on their own, and delight in their ability to do so.

Most children at this age can:

  • group items together, based on two or more characteristics;
  • group items together, based on function (for example, grouping a pen, a pencil and a piece of chalk as things we write with);
  • pay continuous attention for at least 10 to 20 minutes;
  • develop a simple plan in order to meet a goal;
  • try to come up with ideas to solve common problems;
  • use several shapes together in order to create something;
  • state their current age, and how old they will be next year;
  • know the difference between right and left;
  • know which day of the week it is, and point to that day on a calendar;
  • predict what will happen next in simple stories;
  • identify and understand the value of most coins and bills (Fig. 1);
  • understand the difference between day and night, and what activities are performed at these times;
  • identify and understand the difference between the four seasons (Fig. 2);
  • know which things are living and which are not;
  • understand which happens “first” and “last” in sequential events;
  • talk about how things are the same and how they are different ;
  • state the five senses, and can tell difference between them;
  • are starting to learn via language and logic, as opposed to learning via direct experience;
  • draw some basic inferences ;
  • tell the difference between fact and opinion ;
  • can identify objects by their uses (for example, know that chopsticks or forks are for used for eating);
  • recognize that boys and girls are different and can tell what makes them different;
  • play games with rules (Fig. 3) and are usually quite good at understanding and following those rules (for the most part);
  • understand the concept of “opposite” (for example, big is the opposite of small);
  • engage in simple and concrete operations (see full Glossary). Although they can represent some operations mentally, this representation is rooted in concepts that they can see, hear and feel;
  • look at a problem or situation from different angles. Piaget called this skill decentration. This ability will help children in developing the social skills that they will soon need to make and keep friends;
  • understand that objects can fit into more than one category. For instance, a red triangle is a shape, but it can also fit in the category of “things that are red;”
  • pay “selective attention” (see full Glossary) to information presented to them. That is, they are starting to recognize what information is relevant for a particular task and what information is not;
  • draw detailed pictures of themselves (Fig. 4). The pictures now include a lot of body parts, such as a neck and fingers;
  • understand “cause and effect.” For example, they now understand that they need to lock their bike, because if they don’t, it might get stolen.
Figure 1. Coins and bills
four seasons
Figure 2. Four seasons
games with rules
Figure 3. Games with rules
Figure 4.  Detailed picture of family members

Did you know?

  • Children at this age are very curious and eager to learn. It is important to foster this curiosity and eagerness to learn by answering their questions, and giving them fun and fulfilling activities to engage in.
  • Children at this age may start many projects but only finish a few. This is partly because they quickly lose interest in what they are doing, and partly because they may start with an idea for a project and end up with another idea altogether for the same project. This is perfectly typical behaviour at this age, and should not be seen as a cause for concern.
  • Children at this age tend to ask a lot of “why” or “how come” questions. That is because they are starting to understand “causality.” They are starting to understand that just because two things happen at the same time it doesn’t mean that one causes the other.
  • Children at this age have a well developed theory of mind (see full Glossary). They are able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, and come up with an idea of what that person is thinking about, or how that person may be feeling.
  • Children at this age are very concrete in the way they view the world. They need to experience things in order to understand them. It is therefore extremely important that they be provided with a lot of opportunities to play and experiment with everyday situations and materials.
  • Children at this age are refining their discrimination skills and delight in their ability to find objects that are hidden or embedded in larger pictures. Giving them games like “Where’s Waldo ?” (Fig. 5) is a great idea.
  • Children at this age like to conduct simple experiments. They may put their shoes or their favourite toy in the freezer, just to see what happens.
Where is Waldo?
 Figure 5. Where is Waldo?
see References

December 1, 2011   No Comments