Metacognition: Teach a Child to Fish
By Meaghan Allen, Lower KS2 Leader of BSB Sitges
With a variety of curricula to choose from these days, many parents must ask themselves, “How can we be sure we have made the right choice for our child?” What many fail to realise is that the true importance lies not in what children are learning, but how they are learning. An abundance of evidence from around the world strongly suggests that the key to improving a child’s motivation and ability to become an independent and responsible lifelong learner is to employ effective metacognitive strategies. These strategies will help them transfer the knowledge they acquire to a variety of different situation and allow children to see the ‘big picture’.
What is Metacognition?
Metacognition is simply described as the act of thinking about thinking. It is the awareness and understanding of one’s own thought process. Through this simple concept, children will be able to acquire, retain and transfer new content, while becoming confident, self-aware, and independent learners.
What does it look like in a classroom setting?
The skills of metacognition are taught by asking children the right questions. Questions that require them to call upon their previous knowledge and assess what they already know. This encourages children to be involved in the process of their own learning by identifying a starting point and stimulating curiosity.
If children are simply given information and asked to apply it, they are not required to call upon critical thinking skills, which are supremely important when they are trying to discover who they are as learners.
Once children’s curiosity is engaged, and they have a starting point to reflect upon, teachers must stress the importance of continuous reflection. This can be accomplished by asking them questions about their learning, during, or at the end of the lesson, while celebrating the identification of errors. By asking children what they found challenging in a lesson, they are required to review the lesson and pinpoint a specific area of their learning. The teacher can then ask the children to explain how they overcame this adversity and praise them for the learning that has taken place.
Putting it into practice
- Steps to success
The steps to success break down a child’s learning objectives into small blocks via reflective questioning. For example, “Can I remember to include commas between multiple adjectives?”
The children reflect on these steps throughout the lesson as guidance, and use them as a self-evaluation at the end of each lesson.
- We ask the right questions
Teachers have had pedagogic training of the significance of good questioning in the classroom.
- We celebrate determination
As one of the key school values to encourage children to embrace errors as learning opportunities.
- Effective PSHE program
Through PSHE lessons, teachers encourage children to be reflective individuals through regular circle time discussions.
How can parents help their children at home?
- Ask your child questions about their learning and don’t settle for short one word responses. Ask them to explain in detail, giving examples or challenge them to apply their knowledge to a new concept.
- Get your child to set personal goals (For behavior, subjects in school, reading each night etc.) then ensure they are consistently monitoring their progress.
- Self-questioning – get your child in the habit of asking themselves questions that require them to call on their previous knowledge. (What do I already know about ___? What do I need to know? How can I find the information in need?)
- Ask your child how they are feeling about school and why. If they are frustrated, can they identify why? Can they come up with solutions?
Teaching children the skills to tackle problems, while building inquisitive minds lies at the heart of creating the leaders of the future. By equipping the students with nets, and teaching them to fish, you give them the opportunity to become, creative, reflective, life-long learners.
You can view the news article on Ser Padres website.
You can read the news article published on the Cognita’s website.