Cognition

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Cognition

Educating the whole child means engaging the brain in profound ways that traditional schooling too often neglects.

We at Compositive call this whole mind education. In more technical language, whole mind education focuses on cognition. A common definition of cognition is “…the processes whereby individuals acquire knowledge from the environment.”

Of course this means more than downloading information. It means processing that information and making meaning from it as well.

Compositive has done a deep dive into social science research on whole mind education. Dozens of studies have shown that broadly speaking, a whole mind education develops both cognitive processes and cognitive capacities.

Cognitive Capacities

Cognitive Capacities can be broken into four broad categories: artistic and musical; verbal/linguistic/literacy; visual-spatial; and logical-mathematical. These four capacities are interconnected and feed off one another.

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Artistic & Musical

Artistic & musical capacities, if properly nurtured, can improve children’s achievement and performance in other domains. Some research studies have found an association between musical skills and reading development among young children. 

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Logical / Mathematical

Logical-mathematical capacities refer to the capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns, and to handle long chains of reasoning. These capacities have been tied by research to a capacity for executive functioning.

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Verbal / Linguistic / Literacy

Verbal/linguistic/literacy capacities, “sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms, and meanings of words; sensitivity to the different functions of language,” appear to be especially closely connected to critical thinking capacities.

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Visual / Spatial

Visual-spatial capacities deal with shapes, patterns, designs and with the placement and relationship of objects in space, including distance and direction, and appear to be connected to critical thinking skills. 

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Cognitive Process

Cognitive Process includes problem solving, critical thinking, and executive functioning. 

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Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is vital not only because of the positive benefits it brings, but also because a lack of critical thinking abilities correlates with poor decision-making. Strong critical thinking skills correlate with better academic performance, including higher grade point averages. 

And one study found that higher “levels of critical thinking skills were associated with lower levels of negative real world events,” e.g. spending a night in jail. Studies show that critical thinking skills can be taught most effectively through “explicit instruction” rather than indirectly.

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Executive Functioning

One researcher defines executive functioning as “top-down mental processes needed when you have to concentrate and pay attention, when going on automatic or relying on instinct or intuition would be ill-advised, insufficient, or impossible.”

Research shows that executive functioning predicts children’s math and literacy skills and their learning behaviors and levels of engagement

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Problem Solving

Evidence of problem solving has been observed in very young children and even infants. Research shows that problem-solving skills in children can be improved from the earliest ages with training.

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as it relates to our whole child education model. 

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