By Michael Hilkemeijer

Original Article


To be able to develop ICT capability in children, they need to know more than just the knowledge of techniques and processes.

Teaching simply this is not sufficient any more for the successful application of ICT to problem situations. They need to choose to use that knowledge, monitor the progress being made and evaluate the solutions gained.

Metacognition – knowing what you know – is significant for young children and it empowers them as they are given independent choice.

Children need to do more than just give an answer to a problem - they have to explain how they came that answer.

As a early childhood teachers which include that of a preschool teacher and a kindergarten teacher, you need to engage in conversation around what children are doing and how they are problem-solving with the technology.

Skilful teaching of skills and techniques ensures that children are well supported so that they are able to choose successfully.

In early childhood, higher order skills are demonstrated when young children:

  • Decide when it is appropriate to use ICT as a tool for a specific purpose.
  • Plan what routines, techniques and process need to be used.
  • Work independently to solve problems.
  • Evaluate their use of ICT and the outcome it presents.
  • Explain and justify their choices to approaches.
  • Reflect on their learning with ICT and question how things might be changed for the better outcome next time around.


The issue which you need to be aware of is not whether a child knows a technique or process, it is whether they know that they know and thus able to decide whether it is appropriate to use.

You could ask them how they feel about using the technique as this is a further aspect of metacognitive knowledge.

What you might find is that if they are positive or confident about it, they will use it again.

What else can you do as a teacher or parent?

  1. Tune in – listen carefully to what is being said and observe their body language and what they are doing.
  2. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing – maintain eye contact, smile and nod.
  3. Respect their decisions and choices – ask them to elaborate.
  4. Re-cap the experience.
  5. Offer your own experience.
  6. Clarify ideas.
  7. Make suggestions.
  8. Remind them of things to do.
  9. Encourage further thinking.
  10. Offer an alternative viewpoint.
  11. Speculate and reciprocate.
  12. Use positive questioning.
  13. Ask open-ended questions.
  14. And model your thinking out aloud in front of them.

From foundation to Year 6, children can attain a level of independent choice in relation to their use of ICT by employing these metacognitive teaching strategies. The goal of any early childhood teacher, albeit preschool or kindergarten, should be to encourage young children to communicate their thinking process. That's metacognition.

Metacognition and Children - Further Strategies

There are many other ways that you can help develop metacognition in children.  Helping children ‘think about thinking’ will enable them to change their behaviour. According to Child Mind Institute “more and more studies are suggesting that kids who are taught to use metacognitive strategies early on are more resilient and more successful, both in and out of school.”

Here are some metacognitive teaching strategies that you can use today.

  • Use open-ended questions – allow them time to reflect on their thinking.
  • Non-blaming – ask them to think about their behaviour so that you can help them to manage and learn how to deal with difficult situations.
  • Solution-focused – you can encourage them to think about how they can use their understanding to change things in the future.
  • Process-orientated – you can ask questions to help the child get a better idea of how their thought process works.

Metacognition in early childhood is about making sense of life experiences especially when it comes to using technology in learning environments.

Other metacognitive teaching strategies that Edutopia suggests include:

  • Teach students how their brains are wired for growth;
  • Give students practice recognising what they don’t understand;
  • Provide opportunities to reflect on work (very important for ICT learning);
  • Have students keep learning journals.

Learning how to learn is important and using metacognitive teaching strategies you will enable students to develop an awareness of their own knowledge of ICT techniques and processes, the opportunities and limitations offered by the possible use of ICT techniques and processes, and their ability to regulate their own actions in the application of knowledge.

8 Teaching Strategies to Develop Metacognition

Metacognition has been associated with effective learning in numerous contexts. Its concept has been applied by many teachers to design effective teaching strategies. Effective applications with ICT to help young children think about thinking is essential for their development and needs to start in early childhood education.

Metacognition in early childhood is closely linked to play or metaplay at this stage of development. Helping young children become aware of their own mental operations is significant and the above metacognitive teaching strategies will aid you in achieving this. For young children in early childhood, this layer of thinking about thinking can witnessed when they are immersed in play.

For example, as a scene unfolds you will notice that they might step back and structure what has happened and what will happen next, who will be who, where will the play be situated etc. This is what is known as metaplay and it demonstrates how young children actively direct their learning through ongoing assessment of what has gone before (Glazzard & Percival, 2010).

Metacognition develops as young children find it necessary to describe, explain and justify their thinking about different aspects of their world and this is important. They need to be able to communicate their thinking process.

Primary/Elementary school teachers are using metacognitive teaching strategies such as “What were you thinking about as you worked on the problem…or as you read that story?” Here are a number of other metacognitive teaching strategies for young children and primary age children you may be interested about.

Increase student agency

You can do this by:

  • Assist students to take ownership of their learning by identifying strategies that support them to attain learning goals
  • Assist students to become increasingly self-directed over time, and to gain confidence in their ability to complete learning tasks
  • Provide opportunities to reflect on the effectiveness of their learning and plan for future development
  • Enable students to negotiate assessment methods and criteria matched to their learning goals.

(Education, Victorian Gov.)

Develop their higher order thinking skills

Metacognition in children can be promoted when using ICT and this therefore, develops their higher order thinking skills. As children regulate their cognition through evaluating and monitoring their learning, it will be important that you manage the planning, monitoring and evaluation of students’ work in the process through whole-class teaching. Students will gradually take over some of the thinking of their work and learning and you can help promote this by asking strategic and evaluative questions, encouraging students in groups to ask these questions of each other, and expecting individuals to ask these questions of themselves. These metacognitive skills are essential for students.

Ask students how they feel about an ICT technique or process

This is a further aspect of metacognitive knowledge of students. If they feel confident or positive about using an ICT process, then they are more likely to choose to use it.

Have children meet key requirements

This means that you will need to have the requirement for children to articulate their thoughts about the opportunities and constraints offered by ICT techniques, processes and strategies which they might have experienced. Their articulation might be verbal, written or via email. However, it should be interactive.

Encourage Independent learning

The key challenge in enabling students to work independently on their own is to give them the metacognitive skills required to manage their work and to stay motivated on the task. ICT can help achieve this as it supplements students’ metacognition along with helping them achieve high expectations and focus on the role of personal effort.

Encourage reflection on ICT learning

When students have achieved a well-planned ICT task it usually means that they have engaged in the sort of thinking about the subject matter that helps them understand the concepts along with the facts and procedures. They should be able to recall not only what they did but why they did it. This will improve their retention and significantly boost their understanding. This can either be done by questioning, summarising, explaining to others and discussion.

Facilitate the development of autonomous users of ICT

You need to help to become autonomous users of ICT by allowing significant student autonomy in the selection of  ICT tools and resources. Discuss with the whole class teaching what ICT technique or software or hardware you would use and why. Model your thinking out loud for them to develop their own train of thinking. Progression in ICT capability demands that students develop ever greater autonomy. They will need ICT tools of growing complexity for increasingly complex lines of inquiry involving progressively making decision making and personal autonomy.

Intervene at the opportune moments

Another metacognitive teaching strategy is to intervene in the form of focusing questions to assist students them in the formation of generalisations. This can either be planned or unplanned and can also develop their higher order thinking skills.

These examples of metacognitive awareness in children will help you to guide a child’s progress through a task by asking questions that focus their attention at critical points. The concept of metacognition or thinking about thinking in relation to ICT capability development refers to our knowledge and beliefs that we have about our own cognitive resources in situations. It also is to do with the ICT techniques and processes we are able to use.

As discussed earlier, it is not whether that a student or child knows an ICT technique, it is whether they know that they know and thus be able to decide to use it. They need to be able to make realistic assessments about what they can learn. Their ability to solve problems is also dependent on metacognitive knowledge. By using these metacognitive teaching strategies, metacognition in early childhood and primary age children will be fostered in your classroom today.



The Role of Make-Believe Play in Development of Self-Regulation by Laura E. Berk, PhD

What is sensory processing disorder? by familydoctor.org 

How to Change Negative Thinking Patterns by Juliann Garey

How to Help Kids Deal With Cyberbullying by childmind.org

How Can We Help Kids With Non-Verbal Learning Disorder? by Caroline Miller

Dyslexia and ADHD: Which Is It or Is It Both? by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Rebecca Joy Stanborough

Occupational Therapists: What Do They Do?  by Beth Arky

Sensory Processing FAQ by Child Mind Institute

Autism Plus Wandering by Beth Arky

The Uncompromising Child: Four Responses to Rigid Thinking by Eileen Devine

When Siblings Won’t Stop Fighting by Katherine Martinelli