14 Metacognitive Teaching Strategies that Empower Young Children

By Michael Hilkemeijer


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 anymore 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.


Metacognitionknowing 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.


ICT in Early Childhood Education

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.