What is Growth Mindset?
The beliefs children have about intelligence, effort, and struggle impact the choices they make about learning.
People tend to hold one of two different beliefs about intelligence:
- Children with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed. These students see school as a place to develop their abilities and think of challenges as opportunities to grow.
- Children with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is fixed at birth and doesn’t change or changes very little with practice. These students see school as a place where their abilities are evaluated, they focus on looking smart over learning, and they interpret mistakes are a sign that they lack talent.
Growth Mindset in Schools
At Shepherd Primary School, we are implementing the using growth mindset theory in pupil’s everyday interactions. We will encourage them to use setbacks and difficulties to motivate themselves; celebrate effort rather than results and encourage pupils to accept challenges with a sense of achievement for trying.
Examples of some things Shepherd Primary School may do are:
- Change our marking system so that things such as effort and attitude are rewarded recognized rather than results.
- Change the language they use when speaking to children: ‘You tried really hard with your tables test, well done’, rather than ‘ten out of ten – well done, you’re a brilliant mathematician’.
- Encourage children to choose their own level of challenge in lessons, rather than having one worksheet for this group and another for that one.
Helping Your Child Develop a Growth Mindset
Clearly, it will be beneficial for children if these messages are also being reinforced at home. Try these simple strategies:
- Set high expectations. Tempting though it may be to say, ‘never mind, try the easier one’, this approach doesn’t nurture self-esteem. By expecting your child to try something more challenging, you are showing them that you believe they can do it.
- Don’t be afraid to criticise your child supportively. Teach your child to see criticism as useful feedback on how to improve. Remind them that it is always the ‘mean’ judges on reality shows whose criticism means the most to the contestants!
- Don’t do everything for your child (at an age-appropriate level). If you do everything for them, you are simply telling them that you think you can do it better, and that they are not good enough.
- Encourage resilience and ‘stickability’, even when something is tough. It’s helpful to talk to children 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 that struggling is a sign of learning, not of failure.
- Celebrate mistakes. Children should not be made to feel ashamed of mistakes since mistakes can help us to learn. If in doubt, look online for examples of famous sports people, inventors and other well-known people who struggled with errors, setbacks and failures before achieving their goals.
- Whilst looking at these famous people, find out about their approach to effort. Many people who have achieved great things have also talked at length about the hard work, effort and persistence they have put in, in order to achieve their goals. The modern ‘reality-show’ approach to fame can persuade children that results can be achieved through little effort; but truly successful people, who have worked hard to achieve their goals, are far better role models.
- Think about how you talk to, question and praise your child.