The importance of Intelligent Learning Behaviours

The importance of Intelligent Learning Behaviours

What is the best skill set that you can give a child to help them prepare for any exam or interview ahead?

The ideal behaviours for the best learning possible have to be explicitly taught and developed within children. They are the most important basic elements needed to create resilient, life-long learners with the skills to tackle any problem or exam.


At Meta Prep, our goal is to get each pupil to evaluate and reflect on their learning, leading them to become an expert meta-learner.  Reflection time is often underestimated or undervalued. Without space to sit back and think or take stock how can we expect improvements or progress?  To help prompt deeper reflection, we often throw in a few questions: how well did it work? What could I change next time I use it? Where can I use the same strategy again?

It only works when you are honest with yourself and thinking critically about your process. Tough to get started, who really wants to look back at mistakes or problems they have encountered. You need to practice the skill of self-evaluation with the support of an experienced teacher, like our trained Cognitive Coaches.


Self-regulation is the ability to understand, monitor and temper your thoughts, emotions and behaviour. Good self-regulation has the wonderful effect of producing positive results in exams, relationships and increasing confidence.

The Education Endowment Fund (EEF) compared the effectiveness of different strategies for pupil achievement. They  explored metacognition and self-regulation stating that these must be taught explicitly in all lessons. It should not be seen as a separate subject.

Across Meta Prep, we use a common language of thinking and learning to ensure that children are being nurtured to think reflectively and take responsibility for their own learning.  When we begin to notice our triggers for stress and distraction, we are practising the skill of self-regulation. This leads us towards the sweet spot, knowing how we best learn. We can calm ourselves and refocus, when needed, resulting in high levels of achievement and satisfaction. A much better use of time and energy.

Creating and Breaking Habits of Mind

Costa & Kallick’s research into Intelligent Learning Behaviours led them to categorise 16 Habits of Mind that were seen in expert problem solvers and highly successful people that are not fixed. They are constantly changing and we have the ability to break and change them.

When we think of habits, most people think of physical habits. Some of these habits are easy to break. Others are harder. If you are a nail biter, the urge can be tough to break but with hard work, and some outside support, it can be done.

Mental habits should be treated in the same way. They can be challenged and broken through hard work and with support. Teaching children explicitly that there are 16 habits of mind and getting them to consider which ones would be a useful tool to use for that lesson, piece of homework, project or challenge gets them thinking!

Exercise, Diet, Sleep

Our brain is a constantly growing and changing organism that needs energy to function well. We need to look after our bodies and brains to be able to produce the best possible versions of ourselves. Exercise, diet and sleep are the main drivers keeping the brain functioning. Exercise has proven to increase memory and attention. It allows our brain to grow and increase the neurological pathways and connections between different parts of the brain. Diet is simply balancing the foods that you eat. It is about eating the foods that support your brain and body through gaining the right amount of nutrients. Sleep is arguably the most important of all three. Sleep renergises us, allowing our brains to mull over the day’s learning and thinking.

These intelligent learning behaviours are integral to a successful life and are behaviours and activities we need to be consciously completing every day.