How “thinking about thinking” can help children in school and in life

In simple terms, metacognitive thinking teaches us about ourselves. According to Tamara Rosier, a learning coach who specializes in metacognitive techniques, thinking about our thinking creates a perspective that allows us to adapt and change to what the situation needs.

A simple example of metacognitive thinking (or reframing) is this:

“Math tests make me anxious.” This is a statement, a thought. Turning to metacognition, this train of thought evolves into “What about math tests make me anxious…and what can do I to change that?”

According to Rosier, children who are taught to think of themselves as being either “good” or “bad” at a particular task can end up with a fixed mindset that makes them passive in approaching a challenge relating to that task. However, teaching kids to become more metacognitive helps them develop a mindset that leaves more room for growth and adaptation, promoting self-awareness and resilience.

This isn’t just a hunch, there are many studies that prove the worth of teaching metacognition to children. Research suggests that as students’ metacognitive abilities increase, they also achieve at higher levels.

Even beyond academic learning, metacognition can help young people gain awareness of their own mental states so they can begin to answer important questions like “how do I live a happy life?” and “how do I feel good about myself?”

How can we teach our children metacognitive thinking?

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