At our last Home & School meeting, our grade 1&2 teacher, Ms. Laura Hill, spoke about encouraging a growth mindset in kids, based on psychologist Carol Dweck’s work.
A growth mindset starts with understanding that our brain is like a muscle and just like physical activity strengthens our bodies, we can challenge our brain to become “stronger”. Hill believes that teaching students about their brains as part of an early health curriculum would help them understand how they learn.
Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets
A fixed mindset believes that abilities are set and cannot be changed. It has a binary view of qualities: on or off, can or can’t. With this view, you are either smart or you aren’t, athletic or unfit, talented or ordinary.
If your or your child’s mindset is fixed, they may:
- Avoid challenges
- Give up easily
- Ignore feedback
- Downplay or feel threatened by other people’s success
- Work to appear smart or capable
These characteristics set a foundation for anxiety and confidence challenges as they believe success comes from talent alone.
Hill stated, “Students come into grade 1 each year with the assumption/belief that when they walk in the door they will be able to read. It’s very deflating for them when they learn that it’s a hard work kind of process involving a lot of time.”
With a growth mindset, everything can be worked on, developed, and improved upon. Rather than a binary view, a growth mindset is closer to a scale. With this view, it isn’t can or can’t. It’s can or can’t yet. ‘Yet’ lets us know while we aren’t accomplishing what we want now, we can work at it and grow until we can achieve it.
Someone with a growth mindset:
- Embraces challenges
- Learns from feedback
- Can be inspired by other people’s successes
- Believes they can change with hard work
Ms. Hill continued her example from her grade 1s, “It takes hard work, mistakes, and a lot of time to learn to read. We talk about the word ‘YET’, ‘I can do this!’ Try and try again, setting goals, practice and perseverance. We talk about process rather than perfection.”
In her classroom, she shows the students the short animated movie, SOAR, the first week of school. She uses it to start a conversation about how learning happens, especially in literacy.
Ms. Hill uses resources from Big Life Journal to encourage growth mindsets in her classroom. Read more about how you can encourage a growth mindset as a parent in our upcoming blog, Encouraging a Growth Mindset in You & Your Child.