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How To Help Kids Make Knowledge Stick


young child thinking photoKids tend to under-prepare for tests and be overly optimistic about the quality of their writing, and parents may suspect laziness or lack of motivation.

However, much of the problem can be the student’s fuzzy sense of what “knowing the material” means or what “a good essay” is.

The ability to “know what you know” is called metacognition, and it’s one of the big developmental tasks for maturing students. The younger the student, the less perspective they have on their own knowledge.


Here are some ways adults can help young learners develop their logic and make sense of the world around them:

  • Students need plenty of talk-time with parents and other adults, about current events, science, and history.
  • Students need to learn tons of facts about how the world works and what happened when, and why, and how. (History and science are extremely important subjects!)
  • Students need to read from multiple sources when they do research, so they encounter more than one viewpoint. Cutting and pasting from the Internet gets papers written quickly, but does not grow critical thinking skills.

Here are two great articles with more perspective on helping students “know what they know”:

Teach Kids to Figure It Out

Avoiding Over-Confidence (and Underpreparedness) in Learning

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How To Help Kids Make Knowledge Stick

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS is an educator, counselor, writer and speaker. She's been a tutor, test prep coach and home school teacher for over thirty years. Click HERE to visit Leigh's website and to subscribe to her newsletter, "Learning Something New."

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APA Reference
Cousins, L. (2016). How To Help Kids Make Knowledge Stick. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Apr 2016
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