Cognitive / Perceptual Development

Fine motor development

What is it?

Children’s minds are constantly working and processing, and as they grow older and more mature and learn more about the world, they’re able to better process and understand the things that they do, hear and see. This is called cognitive development.

Perceptual development is an aspect of cognitive development that allows a young child to start interpreting and understanding what they touch, see, smell, hear, and taste.


  • socio-emotional development
  • touch
  • taste
  • smell
  • spatial awareness
  • speech and language
  • spatial awareness
  • numeracy
  • listening
  • following instructions
  • problem-solving
  • creativity & imagination
  • directionality
  • memory
  • auditory perceptual skills
  • visual perceptual skills

Timing & Rhythm is the ability to control the timing of attention span, response and working memory (the information that your brain retains as it comes in and before it is converted to long-term storage).

Directionality is the understanding of the direction in which a person or objects moves.

Spatial Awareness is the ability to understand the relationships: a) between oneself and other people. b) between oneself and other objects. c) objects in relation to other objects.

Touch is the ability of the brain to correctly transmit information through the skin and the fingertips. It involves touching and feeling various textures, temperatures, surfaces, shapes and forms.

Why is it important?

Cognitive development is an important aspect of overall child development because among the areas of cognitive development are information processing, intelligence, reasoning, language development, and memory.


Cognitive / perceptual challenges include:

  • speech and language delays
  • inability to arrange objects in an increasing or decreasing order
  • inability to arrange pictures, objects, shapes, letters or numbers in a pattern or sequence
  • inability to immediately recall what the eyes have seen
  • inability to filter visual information that is not important so that you can focus on the visual information that is important
  • inability to notice visual similarities and differences between objects, pictures and symbols
  • inability to recognise an object, shape or word even when their size, shape, colour, or orientation change
  • inability to complete a picture, shape, word, or number. It also includes the ability to construct an object from parts
  • inability to break up an item into its parts (analysis) and then put the parts back together again (synthesis)
  • inability to observe different textures, sizes, lengths, thicknesses, temperatures, weights, shapes, etc., through the skin or fingertips
  • inability to understand and demonstrate the concepts of above/below, behind/in front, underneath/ on top, left/right, next to
  • inability to estimate time, depth and distance
  • uncertainty of direction and is often lost
  • inability to name or differentiate between smells
  • inability to retain information and retrieve it when necessary
  • inability to remember a sequence of verbal information
  • inability to block out disrupting background noises in order to concentrate on sounds that need to be focused on
  • inability to identify the similarities and differences between sounds
  • inability to hear right through to the end of an instruction

You can view and/or print the following Ages and Stages development charts. Please note that each chart is based on averages and is to be used as a guideline only.

1. Auditory Perception Chart
2. Visual Perception & Hand-Eye Coordination Chart
3. Tactile Sensitivity Chart
4. Oral Motor Development Chart
5. Speech and Language Development Chart