Role of Teachers and Parents in Cognitive Development of Preschoolers

Right from the time they are born, children are immersed in an extremely social world. In addition to parents, teachers, siblings, and classmates, this social world also includes the values and objects that are part of their culture. All these factors provide contexts for the cognitive growth and development of a child. 

Children start using representational thought and symbols in toddlerhood, and the same becomes more complex during the ages of 3 to 5. Preschoolers also start using logic to find out how and why things work around them.  As part of their social environment, teachers and parents can play a significant role in the cognitive development of preschoolers. Their support can immensely help a preschooler’s cognitive development by understanding the limitation and advances in their thinking. 

One way of developing thinking skill of preschoolers is by encouraging them to read quality books promoting different aspects of cognition such as symbolic play, memory and social cognition, reasoning and problem solving, metacognitive knowledge, etc. 

Discussed below are some activities, book recommendations, and teaching methods to encourage cognitive development in all its aspects.

Reasoning and Problem Solving:

In their preschool days, children have a natural curiosity and teachers should hone in on their curiosity by posing thought provoking questions while reading aloud to their students. To push their cognitive development, teachers should try and make children understand the causes behind different phenomena. Teachers and parents can also promote reasoning and problem solving skills in their children by introducing carefully selected books to them. For example, Ann Morris’ “Houses and Homes Around the World” can be an excellent resource to teach students about building materials using straws, paper, glue, craft sticks, etc. 

Symbolic Play:

Engagement in symbolic representation is one of the hallmarks of the thought process of the preschoolers. A box may be represented as a car or a block may be represented as a house to them. Unlike toddlers, preschoolers have the ability to understand the difference between real and unreal. In this age, children often identify with the characters they come across in different books. This is why it is possible to engage them in pretend play in unique ways by reading stories where children engage in symbolic play.    

Metacognitive Knowledge:

Metacognition refers to the process of thinking about someone’s own thinking. In young children, using mnemonic strategies or monitoring their own learning is rudimentary. For example, they understand that remembering a small list of items is easier compared to a longer one. However, they are not likely to use a rehearsal strategy on their own to remember the list. Teachers and parents can encourage preschoolers to reflect on their learning and thinking with the help of post-book activities such as asking them what they have learned from the book.   


The memory of the preschoolers is affected by their prior knowledge. At this age, they find it easier to remember concepts and ideas that they have learned through hands-on experiences. 

While reading aloud, teachers can help aid memory formation of their students by 

  • Building connections between the story and the child’s personal experiences and daily life.
  • Asking questions related to the earlier part of the story so that the child has to recall it.
  • Repeat important concepts several times to help them learn and remember it. 

If you have more questions about your child’s early childhood developmental needs, please contact our experienced educators at Valley Heights Preschool Long Day Care Centre.