Cognitive Skills


Brain research demonstrates that superior learning takes place when classroom experiences are relevant to students' lives, interests, and experiences.

Even when educators must follow specific curriculum guidelines for the academic achievement of their students, time can be found within every day's schedule to create experiences to which students truly relate and in which they are interested.  


Positive motivation impacts brain metabolism, conduction of nerve impulses through the memory areas, and the release of neurotransmitters that increase executive function and attention. Relevant lessons help students feel that they are partners in their education, and they are engaged and motivated.


Neuroscientific research about learning has revealed the negative impact of stress and anxiety and the qualitative improvement of the brain circuitry involved in memory and executive function that accompanies positive motivation and engagement.

It's not enough to create the right lesson plans, or the right questions to draw out students' insights and understanding. 

No. The culture of each classroom determines whether risks are taken and meaning is made. Cultivation of a learning environment conducive to mutual respect and connection is the highest priority of the most perceptive and successful educators.


Metacognition refers to awareness of one’s own knowledge—what one does and doesn’t know—and one’s ability to understand, control, and manipulate one’s cognitive processes (Meichenbaum, 1985). 

It includes knowing when and where to use particular strategies for learning and problem solving as well as how and why to use specific strategies. 

Metacognition is the ability to use prior knowledge to plan a strategy for approaching a learning task, take necessary steps to problem solve, reflect on and evaluate results, and modify one’s approach as needed. 

The KIDS' OWN WISDOM® approach does not directly teach metacognition by dissecting its elements. Instead, it provides consistent opportunities to exercise those cognitive "muscles," so that students naturally and automatically rely on those capacities more and more often. 

One naturally occurring and very important benefit = increased personal accountability.


Even though critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully • conceptualizing, •applying, •analyzing, •synthesizing, and/or •evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, √observation, √experience, √reflection, √reasoning, or √communication, as a guide to belief and action... children as young as 4 years of age can begin to engage in the process of exercising their capacities in this way... especially if these opportunities are presented to them in a learning environment that is conducive to mutual respect and connection, and if SOARR-ing questions are used as an aid to evoking these natural born capacities from within your students.

In its exemplary form, critical thinking is based on universal intellectual values:

  • clarity
  • accuracy
  • precision
  • consistency
  • relevance
  • sound evidence
  • good reasons
  • depth
  • breadth, and 
  • fairness


Although the KIDS' OWN WISDOM approach does not, specifically, teach mindfulness, there are many parallels in approach and results:

  • providing opportunities to increase students' awareness of their own inner and outer experiences
  • recognizing that thoughts are not set in stone - that other options are available, based on their own free will and best judgment
  • engaging in peer group discussions for collaboratively re-evaluating situations and responses, which very often results in impulse control. 

Neither approach is a panacea, and kids do continue to be kids ... but with regular practice, both approaches provide measurable beneficial results.