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


Cognitive Strategies and Metacognition at Different Age Levels

By Andrew Loh

Metacognition is a key parameter in the transfer of learning parameters. Accelerated development of meta-cognitive skills is very important to children. On the other hand, Meta learning is a process of acquiring a number of skills required to enhance one's personality. Metacognitive strategies can help children of all ages to develop highly critical cognitive functions. Understanding metacognition is a difficult and tricky process as it deals with your children's finer personal attributes. In simple words, metacognition is your children's unique ability to be able to ponder and know about situations and later evaluate them to think about their own thinking and the level of knowing. In fact, metacognition is a very fine-tuned process that happens along with a number of other bodily activities like cognition, reflex and motor activities. In essence, it is all about thinking about one's own thinking and knowing.

Many psychologists opine that metacognition links to acquisition of knowledge and its development. In fact, there are two significant processes in the acquisition of knowledge and skills:

  • Automatic and unconscious acquisition of knowledge and skills.

  • Gradual and sustained increase in the active and conscious control over the knowledge and skills acquired on the past.

Academicians also believe that it is possible to induce children to learn on a conscious level and assist them in gaining a mastery over the organization of the skills and knowledge acquired. Effective learning is not just about acquiring intelligence, skills and knowledge. In reality, most of us fall into what is known as "intelligence trap", it is a condition when we believe that we have all the knowledge and skills required to lead a life of bliss and contentment. In fact, your children may remain static and sedentary and avoid opening their mind to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Some children are very efficient at learning very useful techniques and strategies and later apply them at appropriate places. Other children may look very intelligent and skilled but feel very unintelligent in their basic approach to learning knowledge and skills. Psychologists also believe that the innate meta-cognitive ability transforms with age of the children; older children are more successful in learning because of their heightened meta-cognitive abilities.

There are six basic meta-cognitive strategies that your children can learn and master. They are:

  1. Asking right type of questions.

  2. Planning for learning skills and acquiring knowledge and skills.

  3. Monitoring the actual learning process.

  4. Checking the quality and merit of knowledge.

  5. Revising the learning process and fine-tuning it.

  6. Self testing the learnt knowledge and skills

However, your children will need to converse with others to understand the finer aspects of the learning process. These lines of conversations could be both external and internal. Problem solving is another area of learning linked closely to metacognition. Educating your children to approach a problem in a systematic and organized manner will help them to hone their skills. Learning failure occurs because of inability of your children to tackle the problems because you did not educate them to do so. You may wish to educate your children to train their thinking process in a more productive manner like:

Ask questions:

  • "What am I doing now?"

  • "What am I supposed to do?"

  • "Can I do this work successfully?"

  • "Can I find better ways of doing this work?"


  • Better cognition.

  • Better understanding of one's innate characters and abilities.

  • Problem solving in double quick-time.

  • Development of self-consciousness.

Most children are unable to evaluate the scope and magnitude of problems in front of them. Teachers and parents can bet encouragement as to reflect on the types of thinking they have been facing. Teaching metacognition to your children depends on their age and level of intelligence while the level of introspection about the skills and knowledge learned depends on the genetic makeup of children.

Successful learning needs a deep understanding of available context and the innate ability to adapt the right type of strategy at the right time. Metacognition enables your children productive learning and problem solving abilities. Young toddlers and children aged two years possess rudimentary metacognition techniques while older children develop the technique slowly over time with the guidance of their parents and children. Children of different age groups deal with learning assignments in different ways. Metacognition and its assimilation by these age groups also vary depending on the development of brain and its structure. However, it is possible to teach the techniques of metacognition to children at different age levels. Continue to read Using metacognition learning to make children smarter here!


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