Cognitive Language & Social Development in Children

From birth, children learn skills that enable them to participate in and explore their environment. Each phase of cognitive, language and social development helps establish the foundation for early learning. Toddlers build on skills learned in infancy, advancing from babbling to a solid vocabulary base, for example. The sequence of skill acquisition is an important factor in healthy development.

Books Facilitate Language Development

Cognitive development refers to skills involving thinking, learning and memory, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Your child learns through play and interaction. Language development includes nonverbal and verbal communication. Children acquire language skills through an exchange of sounds and gestures, and through music and books. Social skills include your child's communication of feelings and emotions through facial expressions and crying. It expands to include sharing, taking turns and solving conflict through language.

Development Facilitates Strong Skills

Proper development helps children reach their full potential, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Developmental milestones measure cognitive, language and social development and help parents and pediatricians identify possible delays. Although fluctuations in the rate of development in children are normal, talk with your child's doctor about any developmental concerns. Your pediatrician can recommend activities specific to your child's developmental needs or refer you to the appropriate specialist or intervention program.

Infant to Toddler Cognitive and Social Development

Infants learn to recognize familiar voices and faces, focus on and follow moving objects and people, distinguish between inanimate and animate objects, imitate gestures, enjoy picture books and respond to simple directions, according to "The Whole Child," a PBS child development program. Toddlers know how to imitate actions and language, match like objects, understand and respond appropriately to language and identify familiar items in storybooks, according to "The Whole Child." Other skills include imitating adult actions through dramatic play, identifying objects in pictures and responding to simple directions. Preschoolers sort items by color, size or shape, ask "how" and "why" questions, have a five-to-15 minute attention span and demonstrate an awareness of past and present. Later, preschoolers identify colors by name, count to five, play with words and rhyme, and draw and describe pictures, according to "The Whole Child."

Cognitive Development to Age 5

By the end of the 1st year, babies understand the word, "No." They can also babble and try to repeat sounds, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Toddlers enjoy story time, point to body parts, such as the nose, eye and ear, recognize words, such as "eat" and "sleep," have a vocabulary of 40 words, make animal sounds, understand words such as "you," "me," "her," "happy" and "mad," reply to simple questions, use phrases with two or three words and begin to use plurals, adds the NIDCD. Preschoolers enjoy poems and silly stories, verbally express ideas and feelings, repeat sentences and use most speech sounds. At age 5, children recognize more than 2,000 words, participate in conversation, speak in more complex sentences and tell imaginative stories, according to the NIDCD.

Social Development to Age 5

Infants develop socially when comforted by caregivers, and through short, frequent interactions, observing their own movements, playing peek-a-boo, laughing, expressing emotions and mimicry, according to "The Whole Child." Toddlers imitate adult behavior, play independently, enjoy dancing in groups, express affection for caregivers and attempt to direct others. Preschoolers learn to share with assistance, make up games, enjoy dramatic play, develop friendships and begin to understand concepts of fairness and appropriate social behavior, according to "The Whole Child."