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Head's Blog

Teaching Pupils How To Learn

I have spoken many times about the importance of preparing our young pupils for the future and life beyond Mulberry. With the growing era of artificial intelligence and the uncertainty of how this will affect future job prospects, children have never needed the ability and resilience to adapt to change and reflect on their learning, more than they do now.

That is why as we move into the second half of term, we have decided to introduce Metacognition lessons into our curriculum. The aim of this will be to enhance the pupils’ awareness of their own abilities and their reflectiveness on how to improve and move their learning forwards.

“Children need to be able to make the transition from ‘I can’t’ to the proactive ‘How can I?’”

At the heart of everything we do as educators, we want to teach pupils not what to think but how to think and apply their learning (Margaret Mead), and Metacognition is the key to its success.

More importantly, there is research evidence (e.g., Moely and colleagues, 1995Schraw, 1998) that metacognition is a teachable skill that is central to other skills sets such as problem solving, decision making, and critical thinking. All of which are embedded within our Mulberry Mindset at school.

From an early age, the children are taught these fundamental skills without them even being aware of it. At The Mulberry House School, the children start by sharing their ideas weekly in Show and Tell, creating their own hypothesis in weekly science experiments, exploring their ‘favourite mistakes’ in Maths lessons, to later participating in philosophical activities, debating topics and justifying their thinking when presenting their ideas to the class.

At all of these moments, the children have the opportunity to articulate their thoughts through questioning and are developing the confidence to think and ask these questions for themselves rather than simply being told.

Modelling metacognitive strategies

Here are 5 top tips on how you could introduce Metacognition strategies at home:

  1. Begin to teach the children that their brains are wired for growth;

How your child thinks about learning will impact their performance whilst doing so. Research shows that when pupils are able to develop a growth mindset (as opposed to a fix mindset), they are more likely to engage in reflective thinking about how they can learn and grow.

  1. When approaching tasks, ask questions that give learners a starting point;

How could you sort these?

How many ways can you find to…?

What happens when we?

What can be made from?

How many possibilities are there?

What strategy do you think you will need to be successful?

  1. Keep your discussions open ended and give your child time to reflect on their thinking. Begin to encourage them to draw on their prior learning;

How do they feel about this topic?

Have they seen it before?

What strategies could they use?

What do they notice?

  1. Encourage them to persevere with the task at hand no matter how challenging;

Can you explain your thinking?

Can you show me your working out?

How could we approach this in a different way?

Does your answer seem accurate, why?

  1. Finally get them to evaluate their learning by asking questions such as;

How did it go?

Did I achieve what I set out to do?

How could I do it differently next time?

Was the strategy I used successful?

Is there anything I still don’t understand?

As we continue to develop these skills, let’s aim for children to…

“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning” – Carol Dweck