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Spotting Weak Cognitive Skills: Signs to Look For

Spotting Weak Cognitive Skills: Signs to Look For

Everything we do in terms of thinking, reading, learning, remembering, reasoning and paying attention requires us to tap into our cognitive skills. According to French psychologist, Jean Piaget, children develop these important skills right from birth and throughout their teenage years in what he calls the “4 Stages of Cognitive Development.” However, for a variety of reasons, these skills can be underdeveloped. Cognitive weaknesses often go unnoticed or unattended to for many years because parents think their child’s struggles will go away over time.

This is simply not the case.

Weak cognitive skills require rigorous brain training intervention but thanks to our brain’s ability to learn, grow and change, new neural pathways can form and cognitive skills can be strengthened. Weak cognitive skills don’t have to remain weak forever and learning can be easier...and fun!

Do you suspect that your child is battling with weak cognitive skills? Here’s a list of cognitive skills and questions to get you thinking if your child could use a boost in each area.


Sustained attention: Does your child move from task to task without necessarily completing each task first?

Selective attention: Is your child easily distracted?

Divided attention: Does your child have a difficult time multitasking?

Long-term memory: Is it hard for your child to recall information for tests or remember the names of the kids in their class?

Short-term/working memory: Does your child struggle to hang onto information while they’re using it? Is it difficult for them to listen to, remember and follow directions that contain multiple steps?

Logic and reasoning: Is math a challenge for your child? Do they have a difficult time anticipating what will happen next in a series of related events?

Auditory processing: Does your child struggle with reading fluency or comprehension?

Visual processing: Does your child have a difficult time following directions or doing math story problems?

Processing speed: Is your child one of the last kids in the class to complete assignments? Does your child seem to grind on homework for hours at a time but make little progress?

Weak cognitive skills manifest in many ways

If your child is struggling in one or more of these areas, in addition to observing some of these specific signs, you may more generally observe

  • Inconsistent performance. One day they may struggle with learning issues and the next day they may seem to learn without a hitch. Or, you implement a new solution you think will help (for example, buying them a new planner so they can get and stay organized) but after a few days, their organizational skills deteriorate...again. This can be incredibly frustrating for your child and for you.
  • Low self-esteem. You may hear your child say things like, “I’m just not good enough,” or “I’ll never succeed on my own,” or they may demonstrate a lack of self-care or exhibit signs of depression. When a child is struggling with weak cognitive skills, they might believe the lie that they’re stupid...which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
  • Acting out. For some kids who develop low self-esteem because learning is difficult, they may act out as a way to feel empowered or get attention, even if it’s negative.

But here’s the good news. Once you help your child pinpoint the underlying learning issues and start boosting those weak skills they will discover all of their potential that was lying dormant and waiting to be unlocked!

Sounds too good to be true? At LearningRx, we’re here to walk with you and your child through the brain training journey. With over 35 years of research and experience, our certified brain trainers will create a customized program that targets your child’s specific needs.

Check out this testimonial from Elle and her mom, Renee, to learn how brain training changed Elle’s life and opened up the doors for her to go to college and pursue her dreams.

If you think your child is struggling with weak cognitive skills, take our free brain quiz and sign up for our thorough cognitive skills assessment to learn more!

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