Cognitive skills are the underlying skills that must function for anyone to successfully read, hear, think, prioritize, plan, understand, remember, and solve problems. The core cognitive skills are grouped into seven major categories which include: (1) processing speed, (2) working memory, (3) attention, (4) long-term memory, (5) visual processing, (6) auditory processing, and (7) logic and reasoning.

When cognitive skills are strong, academic learning is fast, easy, efficient, and even fun. When cognitive skills are weak, academic learning will be a struggle, or impossible. Cognitive skills are the foundational and essential tools for learning. Cognitive skills can be improved through proper training.

The current education paradigm generally assumes that cognitive skills are fixed, that each student is stuck with the skill level given to them at birth. Fortunately, extensive scientific research and successful clinical programs have proven beyond any doubt that cognitive skills can be strengthened.

Education = Teaching x Student Learning Capacity

Education success depends upon good teaching but also depends upon how well each student learns. Appropriate cognitive skill training can help to build a strong skill foundation that will enable any student to achieve their full potential.

There are three primary elements which impact intelligence and how well a person can function. The first element includes how well a person can handle sensory input from sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Any number of medical conditions can limit a person’s learning effectiveness and must be addressed adequately first.

The second element includes the innate cognitive skills, such as memory, attention and processing speed. The seminal work by John B. Carroll, Human Cognitive Abilities: A Survey of Factor Analytic Studies (1993), lays the foundation for understanding cognitive skills and human intelligence. Please refer to the following link for more information, http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/carroll.shtml. Probably the most widely known model of human cognitive abilities is the Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of cognitive abilities (CHC theory), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattell-Horn-Carroll_theory.

The third element includes all the learned content that has been stored in a person’s memory. How to read and do math are learned skills. We are not born with the ability to read and do math or recite that the capital of Colorado is Denver. This is information that we are taught.

It is important to understand that accepting sensory inputs and processing them are foundational to learning. No matter how good the teaching process is, the foundational skills impact how well each student learns. Similar to ensuring that every student has a hearing and vision screening, it is just as important and perhaps more so, that every student’s cognitive skills be assessed to ensure that no weak skills are keeping any student from achieving their full potential. And, if any weak skills are discovered, in most cases the appropriate training can strengthen skills to unlock learning potential.

The following links provide additional information on cognitive skills.

Parent introduction

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