Growth Mindset @ st ANNE'S CE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Helping your child to develop a Growth Mindset
What is Growth Mindset theory, what are its benefits, and how can you encourage your child to develop a growth mindset?
Growth Mindset Theory is all about what individuals believe about their ability to learn new things. Many people have a ‘fixed mindset’, which leads them to believe that intelligence and abilities are fixed, and that a person cannot improve their ability to do something. People with a fixed mindset will often say things like, “There’s no point in trying because I won’t be able to do it.” Or “I’ll never be as good as….” They will give up on challenges easily or avoid activities they have found difficult. They tend to focus on the result of a task, rather than the effort required to achieve it.
Babies and young children are excited to learn on their own terms, but as soon as children become able to compare themselves with others, many become more focused on results rather than effort.
However, research shows that humans’ brains have a quality known as ‘neuroplasticity’ which means it is possible to learn new things and make new connections between the neurons in our brains, even as we progress through into adulthood. People who recognise this fact tend to bounce back quickly from failures and are more likely to explore how they can get better at doing something. They are described as having a GROWTH mindset.
In summary, people with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence and ability are fixed – something we are born with and that we can’t do anything about. People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence and ability can be developed through persistence, effort, learning from our mistakes and trying different strategies.
Why develop a Growth Mindset?
Having a growth mindset is likely to lead to greater emotional well-being. People with a fixed mindset tend to feel that they fail at things because they are ‘just not good enough’. They feel they have no control over their abilities.
Changes you may notice in school:
- Change in our rewards so that effort and attitude are rewarded more than results
- The language we use to discuss learning and WOBBLING when we find learning tricky.
- More specific feedback on how to improve their learning
- Children being encouraged to choose their own level of challenge in lessons
Helping your child develop a Growth Mindset
It will be extremely beneficial if these messages are also reinforced at home.
Help children reconnect with a time when they learned something new
that was a stretch or a challenge. Point out the developmental nature of
“getting good” – we all go through the process of making a lot of mistakes, practicing, and then getting better.
Help children get curious about mistakes and celebrate mistakes. Help them reframe a mistake as new information or as a step in the process of learning. In addition, help them incorporate self-correction in their own learning process.
Model Growth Mindset
- At dinner/in the car: Tell your child about a time when you didn’t know the answer to a recent question. Who did you ask for help? How did you learn the answer?
- At breakfast: Ask questions about their opportunities for learning and growth in the coming day or week. What questions do they need answers to? What do they want to learn, practice, and/or get better at today/this week?
Avoid labels and give Growth Mindset praise
- Don’t label yourself in ways that model a “fixed mindset” (e.g., I’m a terrible cook….I was never good at maths.”)
- Shift your child’s attention to effort
- Praise and value effort, practice, self-correction, and persistence.
- Don’t shelter your child from a failed task. Ask “What can you learn from this experience? What could you try differently the next time?”
Get curious about your child’s work through questioning. How did you figure that out? What’s another way you could have done that? How many times did you try before it turned out that way? What here was challenging and how did you figure it out? What do you plan to do next time?
Set high expectations and don’t do everything for your child (at an age appropriate level). If you do everything for them, you are telling them that you think you can do it better
Encourage resilience and ‘stickability’, even when something is tough. It’s helpful to talk in terms of ‘growing their brains’ – when something is at its most challenging for them, that is when their brains are making lots of new connections. Encourage them to see ‘wobbling’ as a sign of learning.