Cognitive Skills Development To Boost Your Child’s Life Long Success

A child’s ability to succeed at school academically and socially has been studied for many years – many academics, and I have to agree, feel that with the right support and development every child has the potential to achieve more. The age old debate of nature versus nurture still continues to haunt us but yes there are limitations based on physiology and genetics but with the right support the elastic nature of the brain is truly remarkable.

Schools are being held accountable for their students’ academic performance which has led to further focus on the diverse set of skills and attributes that indicate a child’s future performance – academically that is. When is a child ready to start school? What foundational skills are required? There are factors such as where in the social ladder the child comes from which also play a part – with the gap between children from higher and lower income families widening. You could even argue that a child’s readiness at the start of school impacts his or her learning and academic performance into their teens and ultimately effects their employment potential.

Some academics conclude that basic literacy and numeracy skills are predictors of success while others feel more directly teaching preschool subjects to build skills in particular domains help. Preschool years are critical in a child’s development of mental processes from memory, focus, and problem solving. Those who come underprivileged background generally are behind in the development of these building blocks putting them at a distinct disadvantage when moving to higher level work.

Without the building blocks of memory, focus, and problem solving it becomes more difficult to build other knowledge whatever the domain. If we take the four pillars below as key indicators of future ability to gain knowledge then by setting and focusing on these as precursors to school readiness will allow children to quickly catch in foundational domain specific knowledge such as literacy and numeracy skills.

Cognitive Ability Skills
Four pillars of cognitive Ability

The contributions of different cognitive skills in academic achievement has been identified as major factors to predict ability and growth in emergent literacy and numeracy skills. So it seems and would make sense that by developing executive functions of the brain domain specific achievement is would positively be impacted.

There are so many factors in determining how a child’s cognitive development is impacted during the early years but if a more structured and explicit approach was taken – it may be possible that the tools building blocks of learning can be developed and used helping the individual perform at a higher level for the rest of his or her life.

Some simple ways of measuring and potentially even developing some of these general cognitive abilities:

  1. Repeating a set of words or letters backwards
  2. Jigsaws / small puzzles
  3. Basic problem solving tasks
  4. Card games – Snap, Pairs, Crazy 8, Black Jack etc..
  5. Word connection games, verbal and visual
  6. Alphabet Soup
  7. Dot to Dot

What is probably the most important thing is to engage your child with new and interesting objects and set challenges for them so they have to use their cognitive functions from an early age – in this way they won’t only be ready for school but they will be equipped with the building blocks – foundational abilities – that allow learning to take place.

The CAT4 Reveal’s Your Child’s Hidden Potential

What is the CAT4 used for?

A cat hiding in the bushes which signifies the hidden skills that children have.
Hidden cognitive skills lie dormant until triggered !

The CAT4 and be used for a variety of reasons. Firstly as a school entrance exam to ensure that children are able to learn quickly and effectively in a high performing environment. If children in a class are too far apart in academic ability the teacher will end up slowing down the material and having to teach to the lowest common denominator. There is of course room for peer learning and differentiated learning approaches but many schools, particular private schools, are not willing to compromise on the basic cognitive skills they want each and every child to have.

Apart from using the CAT4 as a school entrance exam it is also used as an ability checker and future performance predictor. Many schools now use the CAT4 in year 8 to predict a child’s future performance – particularly at GCSE – and to help determine which set is most appropriate for the child. By developing your child’s cognitive skills in terms of thinking, reading, learning, remembering, reasoning, and paying attention your child will outperform many other children over time even with a starting point of low topic knowledge. These skills will support your child in every way and last a lifetime.

Can’t children be assessed in the classroom – why do we need the CAT4?

In a classroom the teacher only sees a few aspects of a child’s ability. Sometimes the child simply hasn’t ever felt the need to really use their cognitive abilities. Verbal skills are easy to identify but this hidden potential by determining reasoning ability, spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning, make a huge difference to future academic performance. Academic ability and topic knowledge is only one part of the puzzle. The teacher / schools needs to be able to assess the full profile of a child and the CAT4 is an excellent tool to break that down into simply, understandable parts.

Why the CAT4?

The CAT4 is one of the UK (possibly worlds excluding the USA of course) used test of reasoning abilities. It uses at least 25,000 students standardised results to provide an accurate baseline against which your child can be measured. There prove indicators for national tests and examinations during every stage from KS2, SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels. Provide a real insight into the way a child thinks.

How to pass and smash the 11 plus exam?

Passing the 11 plus is just like any other test where a structured approach can increase your child’s chances. Using an 11 plus mock test is an essential strategy parents need to consider when supporting their child. The 11 plus is one of the most difficult tests a year 5/6 child can face and without support and a planned approach it will almost be impossible to pass.

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What are the effects of COVID-19 on the 11 plus?

Should the 11+ be pushed back as suggested by the government to as late as November? The guidance which is only advisory indicates that children are not “likely to perform to their utmost ability in a test at the beginning of September” because of school closures during coronavirus. This raises “the elephant in the room” – with current restrictions in schools will children actually get enough education in the extra few months to make up for all that was lost before the summer holidays?

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What Skills Do You Need To Pass The 11+?

The 11 plus is an entrance exam used by grammar schools and private schools all around the country. As a parent who can’t afford to pay for a private school we have to hope that our child can pass and get into one of the grammar schools. As a parent we want the best for our children and want them get a good start to life and not to be disadvantaged. We all know the school your child goes to will have a direct impact on their future.

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Breaking Down the CAT4 Levels – X, Y, A to G

CAT4 level tests are different versions of the test catering for children who are in different grades in primary school and high school. The table below provides you with a brief summary. CAT4 Level X and Level Y are for year 1 and 2 and have a different structure. CAT4 Level A to Level G is for year 3 to year 12 and above.

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