Middle Childhood Intervention 6-12:

Cognitive Development

Children between 8 and 10 years of age are developing their cognitive skills. They are in Piaget’s concrete operations stage, which means they are performing operations, even if only at a concrete level,  (as opposed to an abstract level of thinking). Signs of cognitive delay at this age can be quite serious and must not be taken lightly. It is very important that those working with children this age be aware of signs of cognitive delay (see the list below). Intervention must start as soon as possible if such a delay exists (Fig. 1)  to help children succeed to the best of their abilities.

child with his head in his hands

Figure 1. Early intervention

Children experiencing delays in cognitive skills may show these signs  on a daily basis:

  • not be able to pay attention for more than a few minutes;
  • need help figuring out simple problems (for example, the washroom on this floor is out of order, so I should go to a different floor in this building, or ask someone for help);
  • avoid games and activities that stimulate cognitive development (games like “can you guess who”);
  • avoid games that contain letters and numbers (for example: Monopoly);
  • be unable to give a lot of detail when talking about something (for example, using very few sentences to describe a great trip. The child has a lot to say, but may not have the words to say it);
  • struggle with complex classification (for example, put the small green triangles in the small bin and the big red squares in the large bin);
  • be unable to identify different parts of a story (for example, this happened at the beginning, this does not happen until the end);
  • struggle with basic class inclusion (for example, a rose is a flower and flowers are living things);
  • confuse past with future events;
  • not know in which province they live;
  • not know the capital of the province in which they live;
  • struggle to remember directions with multiple steps;
  • not be able to try something new when a certain approach to problem solving does not work (for example, putting this piece of the puzzle in this location does not work. I will keep trying until it works, instead of trying to put it in a different part of the puzzle.);
  • appear to have good ideas but being unable to use words to describe them;
  • miss the “big picture” in certain situations (that is, they may not understand what the point is, in a certain story);
  • not finish tasks that are already started;
  • not show initiative (that is, they do not start things on their own, they wait for others to start something and then they may follow);
  • be quite impulsive (that is, they have trouble waiting for their turn);
  • not be able to tell which event happened first and which event happened last (for example: first I woke up, then I had breakfast and last I went to school).


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