Metacognition is our ability to deliberately think about our thinking. It is the core of all the habits of mind we teach each week. One of my favorite sayings is: “Learning is something we do, it is not something that happens to us.” This is what metacognition is all about. Recognizing what we are thinking, saying, and doing is the first step to controlling and telling our brains what to think, say, and do.
In her book “Switch on Your Brain”, Dr. Caroline Leaf explains how we have complete control of what our brain thinks and therefore, what we choose to do. When we are cognizant about what we are thinking, saying, and doing we are driving our brains. We do learning! This is the power of proactive and positive living. Being in the driver seat requires clear direction and assertive behavior. Thinking about our thinking is precisely that. Too often we allow the circumstances in life drive our actions and we become slaves instead of masters of circumstances. Let’s help our children to think about their thinking this week.
Heart – role play a challenging situation.
Mind – talk through a math problem before writing out.
Body – practice the steps to a sport skill verbally, then do it physically.
Soul – talk about how a piece of music makes you feel and think.
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” – Socrates
“When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself.” – Plato
“So few people are really aware of their thoughts. Their minds run all over the place without their permission, and they go along for the ride unknowingly and without making a choice.”- Thomas M. Sterner, The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life
Be a “SENSATIONAL” thinker! 🙂 Why might a lesson done on a field trip be so much more effective than one done in the isolation of a classroom? Consider how many more senses are used when learning something in its natural environment. Field studies provide the sight, sound, smells, feelings, and actions that make up the entire concept. Imagine how much better our kids learned fractions last week when they went to California Pizza Kitchen. 🙂
We use multiple senses and integrate more areas of the brain to remember knowledge or skills. Gathering data through all senses is the most powerful way to incorporate ideas and skills with any lesson. When teaching your child something new make it more conscious by identifying as many sensations as possible. Go beyond the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. Ask questions about sight, sound, smell, taste, visual space/perspective. Be a sensational thinking coach.
What a great habit to address as we celebrate George Washington’s birthday and Valentine’s Day! Commitments to the highest virtues and values in life eliminate lesser unworthy desires. The most important things in our lives are those things that we’ve made commitments to: people, ideas, the place we live, careers, and hobbies. One of the best things about making a commitment is that it provides direction in a world that confuses us with a multitude of choices. Saying no to the multitude and yes to the valuable creates peace of mind, clear direction, and leads us to success. Floundering about without commitments is a confusing and confounding way to live. Practicing commitment in childhood years can lead children to healthier and more successful lives sooner than later.
com·mit·ment kəˈmitmənt/ noun: the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. synonyms: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity
Practicing the Habit of the Week
Heart – play with a sibling instead of a friend
Mind – choose a good book instead of a video game
Body – eat a healthier snack at recess or lunch
Soul – practice a faith commitment.
“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.” -Abraham Lincoln
Words such as community, harmony, teamwork, family, and synergy express the outcomes of people working and living together cooperatively. It is sure nice to know that we live with others who are willing and able to help us be a better version of ourselves. Thinking interdependently is one of the habits that uses many of the habits we have already practiced: flexibility, listening with understanding, thinking win-win, sacrifice, communicating with clarity, and so on. Thinking interdependently recognizes that our lives are happier and more successful when we work together. Our effort between school and home to raise healthy and intelligent young people may be our most important interdependent relationship. When we share the same philosophy about educating children and teach meaningful habits, we more than double the influence on their minds.
Heart – purposely help a friend struggling with a problem.
Mind – read a story with someone and individually speak the parts of the characters.
Body – work together to complete a set of chores instead of working alone.
Soul – share how your personal smarts help others.
“Many hands make light work” – English poet John Heywood
“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” – Michael De Montaigne
So why does parenting involve so much sacrifice? Is it because it just comes with the job and our children need us? I don’t think so. When we sacrifice we actually gain something! It’s because we want to raise great kids, and we want to nurture a healthy family. Giving up of our time, talents, and treasures is not something to be done in vain or for the sake of being nice. The ultimate goal is to gain something greater than that which was sacrificed. When I give of my time to help one of my children I gain greater respect as a father and a deeper love between us.
Helping our kids to understand this deeper level of sacrifice can help them to do things, not because we said that they ought to, but because they will gain happiness in their relationships with others and greater success in their lives. Goodness should be the goal of sacrifice – not affliction. True sacrifice is never pointless. A sacrificial person should expect to gain in the end at the expense of self and to the wealth of all.
“In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Here are a few ways we can sacrifice and win:
Heart: let someone go first.
Mind: give up some play time to practice an academic skill.
Body: help a family member with a chore that isn’t your own.
Soul: consider how your personal talents make you special to our community.