My daughter deserves the world, but I know I have to set her up for success before she can explore it. Every child needs help to become the best version of themselves, especially while their brain is still developing. These are a few ways I boost my daughter’s cognitive development to do just that.

1. We Spend Time Outdoors

Kids are naturally curious, so I tend to direct my daughter’s curiosity to the outdoors. If there’s a game we can play outside, that’s where we go. She’s already fallen in love with hopscotch, playing catch and racing around the yard.
Those simple activities engage her five senses, which is crucial for young kids. Sensory play engages a child’s motor skills, so we include sensory activities during our weekly outdoor play sessions.

2. We Play Puzzles

Jigsaw puzzles come in various sizes, so try picking up a simple one for your kid. My daughter’s used to nine and 25-piece puzzles, so now we work on 49-piece pictures while sitting at our kitchen table or using my tablet.
Putting puzzles together makes her strategize where she puts each piece by matching shapes and images. Cognitive development involves practice with strategic thinking, so puzzles are an excellent activity for young kids like my daughter. You could also try word puzzles if your child is old enough to have a robust vocabulary.

3. We Go to New Places

At least once a month, I take my daughter to a new place. They end up being mini field trips that teach her about new concepts while boosting her cognitive development.
We love visiting new playgrounds or the zoo when they schedule new exhibits. Seasonal festivals with bouncy houses and face painting are always fun too. Breaking our routine to enjoy new environments also teaches my daughter about her likes and dislikes while practicing problem-solving.

4. We Listen to Music

Music is an excellent tool for parents. You’ve likely already discovered that if your child falls asleep to certain songs or cheers up while listening to specific playlists. When I turn on upbeat tunes, my daughter and I practice her physical coordination by dancing.
She also has fun flexing her memory retention skills by singing along to lyrics with me. It’s an activity that’s already part of many family routines, so this could be an easy way to start supporting your child’s development more often during the day.

5. We Ask Questions

I always prompt my daughter to ask questions about her surroundings. She echoes me when I ask what something is when pointing to a cereal box, the neighbor’s dog or a truck. She has to contemplate what she’s looking at before answering, which challenges her memory retention and refines her communication skills. Both are essential cognitive abilities she’ll need to use throughout her life.

6. We Help Each Other With Chores

When my daughter was really young, I would have bent over backward to maintain a clean, happy home environment for her. Now she’s a bit older, so she can help make our house shine.
Sometimes she stands on a chair and dries dishes while I wash them. Other times she uses a mini broom and pretends to sweep while I’m cleaning leaves off our back porch after a storm. Both activities utilize her hand-eye coordination, which needs more practice than you might think.
If you’re unsure about what your child can help with, you could check out age-appropriate chores that align with their current development, like:
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Remember to give them a high five or a hug when they finish a chore correctly. The positive reinforcement will make their day and turn their cognitive activity into a bonding moment.

7. We Attempt Art Projects

My daughter and I enjoy doing art projects together, even though they don’t always go as planned. Cleaning up an exploded glue bottle during a macaroni craft wasn’t the highlight of my week last month, but the time we spent together was worth it.
We made a great memory and my daughter practiced her fine motor skills throughout our craft. She also got to use her imagination, which every child needs to explore their likes and dislikes.

8. We Play Pretend

Playing pretend might be the last thing I want to do when I’m exhausted after a work day or want to enjoy my coffee a little longer, but it’s always a good activity for my daughter.
While I’m pretending to buy groceries at her toy register or recite the alphabet while she plays teacher, she’s preparing for social interactions. My daughter will know how to problem solve, find answers for someone and use her imagination all because we played with plastic foods and school supplies.

Try Cognitive Development Activities

There are so many ways to boost your child’s cognitive development. I may not use every single one of these tips every day, but incorporating them into our weekly or monthly routine helps my daughter’s growth. You can always ask your family pediatrician for guidance too since they’ll know how to tailor each cognitive activity to your child’s current developmental standing.


Ava Roman