Cedar Hill Prep Blog

10 Cognitive Abilities Every Parent Needs To Understand

Posted by Nandini Menon on May 28, 2017 8:44:58 AM

Everyone is different and everyone learns differently. Every person has his/her own set of unique cognitive skills that impacts his/her ability to learn, and also how he/she learns best. This formula of cognition can be seen as the DNA of learning styles, and understanding which skills your child excels in (and which they might need a little help with) is the root of understanding how best to help him/her learn.

Understanding how your child learns is an important step towards helping your child learn better.  

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There are ten base cognitive skills that go into this "learning style DNA", but most people have no idea what they are. Here's a quick definition for each and signs you can look out for to see how your child does with them:

Visual Motor Speed: Sometimes referred to as "response time" or "reaction time,"this skill is all about how efficiently your child integrates visual and motor skills to complete a task. Some indicator skills that will help you gauge your child's capabilities are: typing speed, writing efficiency, and abilities with hands-on tasks like sports or arts and crafts.

Processing Speed: This skill incorporates the speed at which your child sees, processes, and understands information. Indicators of proficiency in this skill include the speed with which a student completes a test, the time it takes a student to listen and respond to a conversation or joke, and the time it takes a student to reply to a question about something they know.

Attention: This skill encompasses the ability to initiate work and then engage in sustained focus on a given task for a time. For indications of attention proficiency, gauge your student's ability to focus on tasks (particularly ones they find unpleasant) such as homework or listening to a long lecture.

Working Memory: This skill measures the amount of small, distinct pieces of information a student can take in, hold in short-term memory, and then apply to a multi-step task. To check on your student's working memory, observe the ease with which they do mental arithmetic, remember phone numbers for a short period of time, or remember the details of a recent conversation.

Flexible Thinking: This skill is all about how a student shifts his/her approach to problem solving due to external factors such as: setting, social situation, etc. To gauge your student's flexible thinking abilities, try to get a sense for how he/she handles unexpected complications, if he/she can shift direction while solving a problem, and if he/she can see situations from more than one perspective.

Abstract Reasoning: This cognitive skill measures how a student understands and processes inferences gathered from information sources without concrete language-based explanations — sources such as images, objects, and numbers. Observe how your student deals with logic or math problems, and consider how easily he/she recognizes patterns in order to trace his/her abstract reasoning skills.

Verbal Reasoning: This skill determines how well a student draws information based on verbal clues gathered from reading or hearing (without additional visual explanation). It is often deeply linked with reading comprehension and how well a student understands the nuances of a conversation.

Spatial Perception: This skill measures a student's understanding of visual material (i.e. maps, graphs, and objects). Check in with your student's ability to read maps, envision how objects might fit together when rotated or turned, and the ability to perceive how objects can fit in various spaces.

Verbal Memory: This skill indicates how well a student might store/recall something he/she read or heard. To measure it in your student, find a sense for how well he/she remembers the details of something he/she read, or a conversation you've had together. Facts and/or vocabulary can also be helpful metrics for this skill.

Visual Memory: This skill shows how well a student might store/recall numbers, objects, or other non-language information. To help determine your child's ability with it, gauge how well he/she remembers charts, graphs, or works of art you've viewed together.

Many of these skills boil down to attention, memory, and thinking patterns that your child might have innate abilities with, or might need to practice a little more. Understanding which of these skills your child is strong with and which he/she could use work on will also help you to understand how your child learns, which will, in turn, help you to understand how he/she might better take in information.


To learn more about how Cedar Hill Prep leverages cognitive skills to nurture the potential of each child, come and visit us:

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Topics: School Beliefs