What Kids REALLY Want to Learn

Kids are humans. They want to learn about humans. Not every human, just one special one. Themselves. Today’s focus isn’t a skill from the curriculum, nor is it one you can teach in one sitting. It’s all about the incidental chats here parent educators. Once our children understand HOW they learn, sit back and watch their self-discipline soar.

Here’s what you need to know;

1. Metacognition

Every time I enter a classroom (from Prep to 6), I use this word. Firstly, it sounds fancy so the children ALWAYS talk about it. Secondly, it is a strategy that will deepen their thinking…well…forever.

Metacognition is that moment when we step back from ourselves and look in as an observer. It is defined as when we ‘think about our thinking.’

e.g. “I’m using pretty negative thinking right now” or “I’m thinking really creatively today.”

It’s a totally non-judgement approach. We don’t necessarily shift the thinking, just notice it.

A poster from a Level 4 classroom who challenged their parents not to ask “what did you learn today?” Very cheeky!

2. Self-Regulation

This is where the shift begins to occur.

To self-regulate is the skill of understanding and managing your behaviour as the world moves around you. Again, it is when we mentally step back from ourselves watch. We ‘monitor’ ourselves.

e.g. “I’m huffing and puffing pretty hard from having my hand up for so long” or “I can see all the way out to the city through this window.”

Watching our behaviours is only half of self-regulation. The other half is the toughie.

Redirecting. This is when we shift the behaviour we have just watched.

e.g. “I’ve had my hand up and haven’t been chosen, I’ll pop it down, listen and tell her after” or “I’ve tuned out as I was staring out the window, let me put my eyes back on the teacher.”

How does this transfer to home?

At this point, metacognition and self-regulation equals confusion in our children. We need to model and model and model this lingo.

It sounds a little something like this.


Over lunch – “My metacognition is all about planning today. I can’t stop thinking about the next steps; my meeting at 2pm and what we need for afternoon snack.”

During learning – “I can see your metacognition has switched off, I don’t want to hear your answer, just tell me about what your brain saying right now.”

A snippet of a breakdown of the language for a Level 5 Spelling lesson.

Self-Regulation (my personal favourite);

  • “I can see you looking at the home screen of your iPad. Let’s switch on that self-regulation. How could you redirect your thinking right now?”
  • “You look deep in thought. How are you self-regulating today to stay so focussed?”

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