Thinking in the Junior School: How we are becoming smarter

Kingsmead College junior school

As part of educating our pupils as individuals who share a love of learning, our approach in the Junior School is to foster the development of multiple dimensions of their abilities. Some examples of these would be: using information technology as part of global best-practice; developing study skills; reflecting on academic growth in order to inform future goals; nurturing the technical and performance skills of Art, Music and Drama; and participating in Public Speaking, Literary, Mathematics and General Knowledge fun events.

We have implemented the teaching of Prime Maths (based on Singapore Maths), from grades one to five, as a way of facilitating deep conceptual understanding within a problem-solving framework.

Kingsmead has been acknowledged as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ in its endeavour to develop and integrate the explicit teaching of thinking skills and dispositions towards learning. It was under the auspices of the University of Exeter, in England, that we were granted our international ‘Thinking School Status’. As a consequence, we are active members of a global approach to learning; with the ultimate goal being our learners’ growth as independent and skilled problem-solvers, who love learning and have fun while asking questions and searching for answers.

The awarding of our ‘Thinking School Status’ was the culmination of four years of rigorous work in developing our school as one that is focused on this whole-school approach. Our staff has had extensive training and the teaching of ‘Thinking’ is now an integral part of who, and what, we are as a school. Our approach is informed by the ‘Growth Mind-Set’ philosophy- believing that, through deliberate practice, effort and good teaching, we continue to grow our intelligence throughout our lives and effectively become smarter.

Our growth as a mindful school community has been based on:

  • Prof Art Costa and Dr Bena Kallick’s 16 Habits of Mind which focus on developing our dispositions and attitudes towards learning

  • Dr David Hyerle’s Thinking Maps which are eight visual organisers that graphically depict our cognitive processes
  • Anderson’s Revised Taxonomy, which develop our cognitive processes and language dimension.

Kingsmead College Thinking School logo

Some suggested reading: 

Exeter University: Becoming a Thinking School
Thinking Maps
16 Habits of Mind
Mindful by Design
Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy

Ingrid Beekhuizen

Head of Academics Junior School

Catch up on our Think Spot News

Enjoy reading some of our girls’ reflections after we were awarded our international Thinking School Status:

“We do clever things and we listen to our teachers. Then we become clever like our teachers.”
– Lusanda Nazo

“I must check my work and try and understand others.”
– Laura Kennedy

Grade 0
“We work as a team to get things right. We learn with our mistakes.”
– Maggie Sommer

“I love that Kingsmead has become a Thinking school because it helps me persist.”
– Zia Dasoo

Grade 1
“I had fun doing the work but I had to think, learn and have fun and it makes me feel special to become a Thinking school.”
– Isabella Botha

“I am happy that I can learn all the Habits of Mind and use them in my life.”
– Qaylah Choonara

Grade 2
“I think that it is very special because it encourages our brain to think in a different way.”
– Andie Stewart

“We have achieved our common goal to become a Thinking school.”
– Valentina Duxbury

Grade 3
“One day I can tell my children that I have been to a Thinking School. It feels like I am now part of a Thinking family.”
– Camille Lombart

“It means I have a better chance of improving my learning and that I have HIGHER goals to reach for.”
– Genevieve Stride

“It allows me to become MORE of who I am and I will have a lot more courage and thought.”
– Emma Balcomb

Grade 4
“Thinking is all about having fun while figuring it out.”
– Bontle Seaka

“Each day you take a step forward.”
– Fikile Nhleko

“I have tools in my life that I can use when I get stuck. I can have my opinion without being scared to share it.”
– Alex Liston

Grade 5
“We have achieved something that we had to persist at, in order to make it happen.”
– Natasha Stern

“As an international Thinking school, we are full of possibilities.”
– Nida Khan

Grade 6
“The Habits of Mind makes me aware of what I need to focus on.”
– Juliana Demetriades

“Sometimes things aren’t always straightforward – sometimes you need to think deeper. Thinking has helped me to do this.”
– Aalia Ismail

Grade 7