What is growth mindset for kids
This post is offered as a quick explanation of what is growth mindset having children in mind.
Let’s start by comparing the thoughts between these two boys.
Boy number 1 usually thinks that:
I can’t do it!
Math is too hard for me.
I wasn’t born for this…
This is too hard…
Boy number 2 usually has these thoughts:
I can do it.
I believe I can make it.
I just need to ask, or find someone who can help me.
Which child thinks like you?
Which child is your child or student? Which child reminds you more of your students?
The one child has a growth mindset
The other has a fixed mindset. What does it mean?
A researcher, Carol Dweck with her colleagues at the Stanford University, found out that, children that persisted through challenges, believed they could get better, while children who stepped back from challenges believed their intelligence was fixed.
Growth mindset is the above theory that was developed by Carol Dweck and it has ever since changed the education world for the better
. In a few words, people with a growth mindset believe they can get better and they relish challenges.
People with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are a gift and they cannot be improved.
#1 Why Growth mindset for kids is so important?
Children with a fixed mindset are afraid of school as they face it as something that judges them. A test for a child is like a conviction, that states if they are good or bad, if they are smart or dumb.
Children with a growth mindset see schools as a place to improve and experiment. They see school as a playground.
As the concept of Growth mindset spread, it was soon realised that the mindset of a child can change. Yes, if a child has a fixed mindset, following lessons explaining growth mindset, they start realising that they can get better at anything they focus on.
Yes, you can get better. Can it be done immediately? It depends on the child. Usually, there should be a consistent lesson for the whole year for children to embed the concept. The younger they are the deeper the impact.
#2 A good allegory to present growth mindset to kids is to say that the brain is like a muscle.
The more you practice it, the stronger it becomes. The brain like any muscle needs frequent practice and of course, it needs rest.
Like an athlete, you need to practice daily or frequently to achieve your goals.
Strategy is important. Choosing the right tactics could help you achieve your goals faster. For example, an athlete may spend days trying to get better at throwing a ball. However, if he asks a coach to show him how to throw a ball, he can learn the right way in only a couple of hours.
What is more fascinating is that when you learn new stuff your brain changes! It creates new synapses between neurons. If you believe you are not good at maths, there is a whole network of neurons inside your brain that is functioning based on this belief. However, even the belief that you were born not being good at mathematics can change? It takes time and practice to achieve this and most importantly it needs a strategy.
For example, you may get stuck at a math problem even if you ‘ve read it many times and took notes. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask the teacher or another student for help.
#3 Showing a table or a poster of the difference between the fixed mindset and the growth mindset is a good reminder for kids
Any time they feel disappointed a glance at it will help them
What would a child with a fixed mindset say? What would a child with a growth mindset say?
I am not good at this
When a child says this, it usually means that she does not believe she can improve, so she won’t try.
I am smart. I don’t need to study.
When a child says she is smart, this means she believes that it all depends on how much talent she has. No effort will change the result. This is a trap for the adults as well that think that telling their child that is smart, will make them feel better.
I wish I was born smart
Again this implies hopelessness on behalf of the child. Whatever, he does is a waste of time for him because he believes he is not smart.
Maths are not my strong point
This child believes that she is good in other subjects but not Math. Probably something she has confirmed from her family.
I am not talented enough
This child sees others children’s work and gets disappointed easily. Even if his work is not good enough, this is not a reason to give up. Small successes can gradually improve his mindset.
I am not good enough
This comment could also show a sign of growth Mindset as the child comments that she is not good enough. Praise them for the recognition and guide them to get better.
I made a mistake. This is so embarrassing. I will never try again.
Shy children have difficulty trying out new things. It is better to allow them their own space to experiment, as public “failures” can traumatize them.
I have a natural talent for Maths
All children have strong points. This child has the strong belief that he is a talent at maths and acts like this to confirm this. Ask him if he has weaknesses to see how he evaluates himself.
Below are thoughts that a child with a growth mindset has when she faces a problem or a difficult situation.
How can I get better?
What do I need to do to solve this problem?
Do I need to ask someone?
Where should I look for an answer?
I am sure that if I put time aside to learn this I will be able to solve it.
I am not able to solve it yet.
I made a mistake. So what? Mistakes bring us closer to success
Carol Dweck published her book “Growth Mindset” in 2006. In the book, you can read about the research she did with her colleagues.
Improve children’s mindset with these suggestions!
Margarita Marti is an elementary school teacher with 9 years of experience working at schools. She has an Med in “Creative arts in education”. She wrote and self published a children’s book called “It’s ok to be different”. Don’t forget to check it out here!