Growth Mindset

Growth MindsetGrowth Mindset Graphic

Mindset is a self-perception that people hold about themselves and can have a profound effect on learning achievement.  If you hold a growth mindset, you believe that intelligence can be developed, that a brain can be grown and strengthened like a muscle.  This thinking leads to a desire to improve and grow and a belief that nothing is out of reach.

Carl Dweck, Ph.D., a researcher at Stanford University and author of Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success, has researched and described the differences between "the fixed mindset" and "the growth mindset." 

Growth Mindset GraphicIn a fixed mindset students believe that their basic abilities, and their intelligence are fixed traits.  Their goal becomes to look smart all of the time and never to look dumb.  Students with a fixed mindset believe that they are either born smart or not.  They are either talented at something or they aren't.  They believe that the world is made up of some gifted people who the rest admire from the sidelines.

In a growth mindset students understand that their talents an abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence.  They don't necessarily think everyone's the same, but, they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it and that through resilience and effort, anyone can build themselves into anything they want to be.  Students are enthusiastic, hard-working people who have chosen to take their abilities to the next level.  Students with a growth mindset believe that they can do anything they are passionate about if they are willing to put in the effort.

Growth Mindset GraphicThe Growth Mindset leads to a desire to learn and a tendency to:

Embrace Challenges
because you know that you'll come out stronger on the other side.

Persist in the face of setback.  Obstacles or setbacks do not discourage you.  Your self-image is not tied to your success of how you will look to others.  Failure is viewed as an opportunity to learn and so, whatever happens, you believe that you will win.

See effort as necessary to grow and master useful skills and knowledge.  You are not turned award by fears that you might try, even work hard and possibly fail.

Learn from criticism.  You know that you can continue to change and improve, so negative feedback is not perceived as being directly about you as a person but rather about the current state of your abilities.

Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. You don't view success as a competitive , zero-sum game with others.

The possibilities are endless.  Nothing is out of reach.

In order to raise children to have a growth mindset, adults must have a growth mindset.  Parents must support their children’s efforts both inside and outside the classroom.  It is important to partner with teachers and respond to outreach.  Worry less about advocating for your children to get good grades and focus on making sure your kids are being challenged and are putting in the effort needed to grow.  

Growth Mindset GraphicPraise Effort

The way you interact with your children has a major impact on the way they think about themselves and perform in school.  Children praised for their results, tend to develop a fixed mindset.  Students praised for effort, adopt more of a growth mindset.  One of the most important ways to help your child develop a growth mindset is to avoid evaluative praise.  Your praise should always focus on effort and persistence and not the end result.  Give specific, rather than general compliments. Help your child see the connection between action and result.  Reinforce the learning experience and help them see mistakes made as opportunities for growth. 

Example:   Instead of saying, “You are an amazing musician.”   Try:  “You played that whole piece of music.  You have been working on it in parts and today you were able to play the whole thing.  You should be proud of all that hard work.”

The problem with praising intelligence is that children start to view their results as a product of their inherent level of intelligence rather than a product of hard work and effort. 

Avoid Praising Results that Require Little or No Effort

For example, avoid statements like, “I can’t believe you got an A without even studying; you’d never get away with that if you weren’t so smart.”  Instead talk about the grade, ask them what they learned.  Emphasize the understanding, not the grade.

If your child put in effort and did NOT do well, focus on what they can change about their approach in order to do better next time.  Express confidence in their ability to learn from this experience and improve over time.

Avoid using "est" words

Don't burden children with labels such as best, greatest, fastest or smartest. While we should expect our children to excel, there is always room to grow and become better. Being the best leaves little room for improvements.Students who believe that they are the best, greatest or smartest have little reason to continue working hard.  Students who hear that they are the best, greatest, finest may be less likely to adopt a mastery learning mindset and may begin to believe that there are ceilings to achievement and they have reached them.

Be a Growth Mindset Role Model

Embrace challenges you encounter and treat mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth.  If you make a mistake, consider sharing it with your child and discuss the valuable lessons you learned from the experience.  When they make mistakes, reframe their "failure" as a positive opportunity for learning and growth.

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