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Develop self-regulated learning at Wellington

09-25     Wellington


Teachers at Wellington, one of the best international schools in Shanghai, know the importance of cultivating children's capacity for autonomous learning. One of the most powerful tools learners can develop is the ability to monitor and direct their learning. Self-regulated learners are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, can motivate themselves to engage in their learning, and most importantly, know the steps they must take to improve. At the heart of this is metacognition, a term that has become increasingly popular in modern education, and rightly so. The process of ‘thinking about thinking’ can empower pupils to improve the awareness of their learning. What does this mean and what does it look like when children are faced with a learning task?

Before starting a task, it is important that pupils are aware of the knowledge that they already have. When undertaking a learning task, we start with this knowledge, then apply and adapt it. This is metacognitive regulation. The three main steps in this process are planning how to undertake a task, working on it while monitoring the strategy to check progress, then evaluating the overall success. The graphic below is a good way to think about the metacognitive regulation cycle.


Figure 1 The metacognitive regulation cycle from Education Endowment Foundation, A Guide to Metacognition and self-regulated learning

However, most children will not spontaneously develop the tools and strategies they need for effective learning. Developing key metacognitive strategies requires explicit instruction from their teachers and, ideally, support from parents. The idea is to combine the teacher’s direct input with specific questioning and feedback.


At home, you can help to facilitate what we do in the class by using questions for each step of the learning process. These sorts of questions are used every day by teachers to help prompt independent thinking and guide children through the metacognitive steps. They can easily be applied at home when studying or working through any task.


‘What resources do I need to carry out this task?’

‘Have I done something similar before and was it successful?’

‘Where do I start?’


‘Am I doing well?’

‘Do I need any different techniques or strategies to improve?’

’Am I finding this challenging?’

‘Is there anything I need to stop and change to improve?’


‘How did I do?’

‘Did the strategy I chose work?’

‘How would I do it differently next time?’

 During the new academic year, if children are working on assignments, they can apply this process and use these questions to help them regulate their learning. The act of planning for learning, monitoring progress, and evaluating is a powerful learning habit to develop. It can make all the difference in preparing pupils for a world where their ability to think for themselves is becoming increasingly vital.

Although Wellington, an international school in Shanghai, is currently closed to external visitors – you can still take a look around via our new virtual tours. Our admissions team is readily available to answer any questions you might have and to guide you through the application process.  Please do get in touch.


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