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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Using Metacognition Learning to Make Children Smarter

By Andrew Loh

Teaching your children with metacognition principles and techniques will help and encourage them to go deeper into what they learn and imbibe in the course of their learning process. In fact, metacognition learning is all about learning challenges when your children will attempt to fine tune what they learn and absorb in their classroom and elsewhere. When you make your children think about their own thinking process, they can easily develop their intellect and intelligence. In fact, when children become conscious of their thoughts, opinion and feelings soon after an activity, they can recall with relative easiness all those processes and actions that they took during the learning process. You will need to ask a progressive list of questions that ask children how they proceeded with their thinking process and the range of techniques they used to achieve their goals.

Let us stop for a while and think how we can raise the level of awareness among our children of different age levels. Just remember that teaching these skills is possible when your children are in the age bracket of two to twelve years; brain development in young toddlers and infants are slow paced and you may need to wait until they become two years old before you can train them to think in a meta-cognitive way.

Questions that center on the type of thinking your children did: This is perhaps the basic step in the entire process. The outcome of this step decides the way in which your children tune their mind to evaluate certain situations.

Sample questions:

  • What type and kind of thinking did you do just now? Let us say that your children finish an assigned task. Your children know that they have successfully finished that task with a tangible result as the final outcome. Now, they should also know the process or method that helped them to reach the goal. When you child consciously recalls these bits of information, they will instantly learn all those steps and processes involved in the entire process.

  • How did you think about the task and describe the process. You may need to ask these questions to extract the plans or strategies that you children used before finishing the task. Strategies and methods are very important solving any type of complex problems.

  • The next important questions focuses on the valuation part of the thinking. Your children must be able to evaluate the results or outcome derived from the task. They should be able to think on how they can improvise on their strategies and methods so that they can achieve better results next time.

Metacognition also involves probing your children's mind to bring out the trait of self evaluation and assessment.

Questions that help your children assess the awareness of learning are:

  • What did you learn?

  • What did you find out?

  • How did you learn?

  • Did you find anything very difficult?

  • Did you find anything very easy?

  • How did you do this task?

  • What did you learn from your work?

Questions that help your children assess the awareness of attitudes and feelings are:

  • What did you like from that task?

  • Do you like doing this work? Why?

  • What do you feel so good about this task?

  • What did you feel not so good about this task?

Questions that help your children assess the awareness of setting targets are:

  • In what way you can do better?

  • What better steps you need to achieve better results?

  • What is your next goal?

  • What will help you in achieving your next target?

More tips:

  • Get your children into learning mode. Cajole them to start learning their immediate tasks.

  • Talk more about what they need to do for finishing the task.

  • Listen carefully to their ideas and thoughts.

  • Ask them how they are going to work on the assignment. Let them write down those steps or methods.

  • Let them work on the task. Do not disturb them. If they have any doubts or problems, you can provide those clues that help them to finish the pending tasks.

  • Once finished, evaluate their work and ask them self assess their efforts. Nudge them to assess their own work and make notes on them.

  • Now, ask your children probing questions involving learning, attitudes, feelings and setting goals as described above.

Once you collect all the inputs, you can pool them together to guide your children to improve their intellect, attitude and learning. Some typical examples of tasks that provide both cognitive and meta-cognitive challenges are:

  1. Providing puzzling tasks that offer more than one solution or provide a multitude of solutions.

  2. Tasks that include cognitive conflicts such as debates and discussions.

  3. Letting children make groups among themselves and having each one of them to teach other members of the team. This type of teaching is called reciprocal teaching. 


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