Cognitive skills are developed over time and derive primarily from our sensory and motor skills but are not dependent on them. However, sensory and motor skills are dependent on cognitive development to give them meaning and direction. Sensory and motor development includes the abilities we normally acquire and develop from birth such as the abilities to:

• see
• hear
• touch
• grasp
• walk

Cognitive functions take sensory and motor skills to a higher level and can improve with training. These skills translate into the ability to:

• reason and make intelligent decisions
• concentrate on work
• determine directionality
• recognize patterns and logical next steps
• understand and evaluate situations or problems
• understand what is heard or read and derive meaning
• follow directions or steps in a specific order to solve problems
• determine outcomes to situations based on prior knowledge
• plan strategies to solve problems
• remember what is heard or read
• use past experience and new knowledge to make decisions
• recall what is heard, seen. or read for future reference

The speed and the accuracy of learning are cognitive skills. As a very young child we can see words on a board but they make no sense to us without the cognitive ability to gather sufficient knowledge of the language, to make sense of the words. A very young child can grasp a pencil but cognitive development will with training give this child the ability to draw a picture or write a letter. For a child who is developing normally walking is a natural development. However, knowing which way is right and left, planning a specific route to walk, or determining how fast to walk to arrive at a particular location at a specific time, requires cognitive ability.

Persons with physical disabilities can have a high degree of cognitive functioning and in fact often do. This is because although cognition can use sensory and motor information to gather valuable information, it is not always necessary. For instance, Helen Keller who was blind and deaf learned a high degree of cognitive functioning apart from seeing or hearing and she became the writer we all admire. Cognitive processes of brain can grow and develop regardless of age or physical condition.

Cognitive problems affect every area of learning and can make or break a student academically. Often we tell children to try harder but children do not know what to do to learn faster or how to improve their learning skills. Cognitive development affects the thinking processes that affect every area of academic life such as:

• reading fluency and comprehension :
• visualizing a story or writing a book report
• paying attention to important facts
• listening accurately to instructions
• remembering instructions
• remembering steps such as on a word math problem
• visualizing vocabulary words
• following directions
• conceiving ideas
• making plans such as constructing models for science
• problem solving and using known facts to find solutions
• finishing homework and tests in sufficient time - processing speed

The purpose of cognitive training and therapy is to target and enhance weak skills while strengthening stronger skills.

In summary, highly developed cognitive skills enable a student improve learning skills to make learning any subject easier. These basic building blocks for academic learning can be developed in only a few weeks but and can be learned at home or school. One-on-one training is important because a child with a learning problem needs the interaction, as well as, the support and encouragement of human feedback. A parent or teacher can easily administer the program. Effective cognitive training programs are designed specifically for parents and teachers to use at school or at home. All children can benefit from cognitive development training but especially children who are struggling to learn.

Author's Bio: 

Anne Sentell is author of The Left Behind Survival Kit for cognitive training and the Auditory Building Blocks Auditory Kit for dyslexia and other reading problems. Anne has a background teaching children with learning disabilities.

She is the owner of Progressive Learning Solutions, a company dedicated to making the learning experience more productive for all children through cognitive processing training, dyslexia training, and providing other resource materials.
Easy to use cognitive training home kits are available at the website.

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