Multitasking seems to be a habitual challenge that many students face. For instance, juggling modern-day technology while completing homework is a common undertaking. As a result, many young learners fall prey to constant interruptions from social media, online video chatting, texting, television and more. Although there are some benefits to being able to shift from task to task, the learning process, as well as the time it takes to complete assignments, is often hindered when attention is continually interrupted. In fact, research suggests that the best way to optimize learning potential is to give one's full attention to a task, and for many young learners this means that they need to develop a metacognitive or mindful approach to learning.
Completing Schoolwork with Greater Efficiency?
One key to helping students maximize their learning potential is to teach them about metacognition. Metacognition is the ability to self-regulate one's own thinking, and it is often described as "thinking about thinking.” One engages higher order reasoning and one's inner voice to actively control the thought processes and maintain engagement in learning. Planning a learning approach, creating a daily homework schedule, evaluating one's progress, and self-monitoring comprehension are all examples of metacognitive skills.
How Can Students Learn Metacognitive Approaches?
Here are a number of strategies that can help learners to develop a metacognitive and mindful approach to learning.
- Share your own thoughts aloud, so that learners can hear how you think about your own thinking.
- Encourage learners to maintain focus on one task from beginning to end.
- Urge learners to remove all distractions when completing schoolwork.
- Help learners to become aware of their own thought processes through mindfulness.
- Instruct learners on how to plan and manage their time. Provide handouts and materials that help them to think through the process.
- Help learners create an afternoon routine where they schedule downtime and homework time.
- Urge learners to plan and write down their approach, create deadlines, and declare intentions to a parent, teacher or peer.
- Provide assignments that challenge learners to create a study approach and have them share their ideas with their classmates.
- Encourage learners to talk about or write about their approach to your class. What is working? What is not working?
- Allow learners to evaluate your class assignments and approach and make any recommendations that would help them improve their performance in your course.
- Help learners to be aware and take charge of their own inner voice.
- Encourage learners to visualize academic content.
Ready Made Materials for Developing Metacognition and Mindfulness
If you would like ready-made checklists, assessments, and handouts, that can help your students develop metacognitive skills, check out the many resources available in my publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for Students. I also offer a number of products that develop mindfulness and metacognition. CLICK here to see all of these products.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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