The Compositive educational model is focused on educating the whole child and is implemented through both Domains and Capacities. One of the Domains of the Compositive educational model is Cognition.

What is Cognition?

Cognition is commonly understood as the way people think, the way people gain access to new information, and the way people utilize new ideas, knowledge, and processes. We know from watching and engaging with our children that they can be “like a sponge” and take in everything around them. Young children absorb new information in multiple ways and throughout their day. Compositive considers cognition in two broad areas: cognitive processes (for example, problem-solving, critical thinking, and executive functioning) and cognitive capacities (including artistic and musical; verbal and linguistic; visual-spatial; and logical-mathematical).  

Compositive is committed to teaching through inquiry-based learning, where the focus is fostering the child’s own curiosity and interests to understand and to solve problems. Teachers help students to take action and to carefully observe, to make predictions, to test hypotheses as the students increase their own knowledge and the ability to apply their new learning. Students learn how to collect and record data, to explain results and to draw on other resources such as books, videos and the expertise of others. Teachers guide students to apply new concepts and to utilize developed skills.  

A Kindergarten student reads aloud to her classmates in the mixed-age Preschool-Kindergarten class

A Kindergarten student reads aloud to her classmates in the mixed-age Preschool-Kindergarten class

3rd and 4th grade students using math manipulatives

3rd and 4th grade students using math manipulatives

The Cognition Inquiry Arc

At Compositive, Cognition is one of the “Inquiry Arcs” which guides the experiences of the students. Students begin with exploration and then practice what they have learned through various forms of expression. For example, some students may be exploring how humans adapt to change. To engage in this exploration, students utilize skills such as reading, mathematics, problem solving and hypothesizing to test ideas and develop more skills. They might explore such questions as “Why do problems arise?” or “How do we solve issues in our community?”.  These questions and inquiry processes guide the development of skills and growth in achievement and application of knowledge. Questions with “why” and “how” help children develop their own thinking skills and foster a sense of agency in the children themselves. By recognizing their own learning and seeing themselves as engaged in the learning process, children utilize their own natural motivation to increase their knowledge and to participate in the continuous learning process. 

Cognition & Problem-Solving

This learning process at Compositive supports students to develop their cognitive processes and capacities. Students demonstrate growth in their own language development in reading, in writing and in oral expression. Students use math tools to understand problems and to employ quantitative reasoning. Students demonstrate scientific thinking and reasoning to understand the physical world, living things, and our planets. Students are problem solvers, describing and determining strategies and examining results. Students utilize critical thinking skills, evaluating information and predicting outcomes to make reasoned decisions. And Compositive students demonstrate both focus and flexibility in thinking. 

Cognition is a primary domain of Compositive. Together with our students we are engaged in developing new skills and applying new knowledge gained. Join us, at Compositive, as we teach and learn together, developing cognition, engaging in our world, and inspiring students to be purposeful, joyful, self-directed learners. 

Kindergarten and first graders observing what makes a watercraft buoyant

Kindergarten and first graders observing what makes a watercraft buoyant

End of year celebration after a joyful year of learning

End of year celebration after a joyful year of learning

Want to know more? Please see these additional resources.

Anvari, S., Trainor, L., Woodside, J., Levy, B. (2002). Relations among musical skills, phonological processing, and early reading ability in preschool children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 83(2): 111-130.

Butler, H.A., Dwyer, C.P., Hogan, M.J., Franco, A., Rivas, S.F., Saiz, C., & Almeida, L.S. (2012). The Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment and real-world outcomes: Cross-national applications. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 7, 112-121. doi: 0.1016/j.tsc.2012.04.001. 

Cerasoli, C. P., Nicklin, J. M., & Ford, M. T. (2014, February 3). Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Incentives Jointly Predict Performance: A 40-Year Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication.

Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit the power of passion and perseverance. New York: Scribner.

Duckworth, A.L., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16(12), 939-944.

Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of theory of multiple intelligence. Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4-10. 

Lund, T. J., & Gottlieb, A. (2018) Compositive: Educating the whole child. Self-published.

Masten, A. (2001). Ordinary magic: Resilience processes in development. American Psychologist, 56(3). 227-238. doi: 10.1037//0003-066X.56.3.227. 

Peterson, C., Park, N., Hall, N., & Seligman, M.E.P. (2009). Zest and work. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30, 161-172. 

Sparrow, S.S., & Davis, S.M. (2000). Recent advances in the assessment of intelligence and cognition. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 41(1), 117-131. 

Stanford University’s Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education. (2016, April 18). Retrieved from 

Zelazo, P.D., Carter, A., Reznick, J.S., & Frye. D. (1997). Early development of executive function: A problem-solving framework. Review of General Psychology, 1(2), 198-226.

October 17, 2023
By Board Member, Norma Hafenstein