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Reflective thinking supports achievement and well-being

Reflective thinking supports achievement and well-being

Reflective thinking supports achievement and well-being

Schools benefit when they promote a reflective mind set within their whole community: Parents & Children; Teachers & Children: Teachers & Parents; as well as amongst the children; amongst the teachers and amongst the parents.  

Social and emotional skills are a pre-requisite for academic achievement.

Background: Just as early learning depends on the reflective, social and emotional relationship between children and their parents, so too academic learning is enhanced by a reflective, social and emotional exchange within the classroom.  In other words all learning depends on reflective thinking which supports the development of interpersonal social skills and the emotional skills for self-regulation.


Social and emotional skills can be taught. They include the ability to: 

  • Feel connected to others,
  • Empathize, share, cooperate, be helpful
  • Communicate both feelings and ideas
  • See another person’s perspective
  • Respect differences
  • Assert oneself without being aggressive
  • Label, express, regulate and tolerate negative emotions,
  • Regulate negative behaviors and impulses, even in the face of strong emotions.

Learning involves memory and facts, but even more importantly involves understanding concepts, seeing how they connect to concepts one already knows, and being able to use them in creative and innovate ways.


We know that all learning, including academic learning is strengthened by:

  • The freedom and encouragement to explore and experiment in a trial and error way
  • Being able to engage with others in social conversation, discussion, and a sharing of ideas
  • Expressing one’s ideas without fear of being judged or shamed and without judging or shaming others
  • Recognizing how what one is learning has relevance in one’s own life
  • Being able to self-motivate and work alone as well as to cooperate and collaborate as a part of a team
  • Confidence in one’s own ideas with a flexibility and openness to new ideas
  • The ability to discover and use the learning techniques which are best suited to oneself
  • The ability to persevere and continue to make an effort even in the face of frustration and difficulty.

All the factors that enhance learning depend on being reflective because it is the basis for all adaptive social and emotional skills!

Social and emotional learning can be taught by parents as well as teacher Classrooms should be a reflective environment that emphasizes the learning of social and emotional skills to:

  • Promote feeling connected, respected, valued and important to the group
  • Encourage empathy, seeing the other’s perspective, communication, cooperation, helping others,
  • Build trust, loyalty, and taking personal responsibility
  • Encourage children to explore their interests
  • Encourage trial and error learning, with an acceptance of failure and mistakes
  • Engage in projects in which children can apply what they are learning in creative ways
  • Emphasize helping children to see the personal relevance in what they are learning

ALL kids need help with these things, not just kids who are having problems.

Is your child’s school a reflective learning environment? If not perhaps you can become a Reflective Ambassador at your school, to introduce and support these ideas amongst the parents, the teachers and the school administrators.


You don’t need to re-invent the wheel. Center for Reflective Communities has the tools to help you and your child’s school community accomplish this.



As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I have been in private practice for over 35 years, with a special interest in parents and couples.


Nothing from March 8, 2021 to September 7, 2021.