At Burpham Primary School
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Carol S. Dweck, PH.D, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University
What Is Growth Mindset?
The term ‘growth mindset’ refers to a way of thinking, learning and taking on challenges. A person with a growth mindset is open to constructive criticism, takes feedback and uses it, takes on new challenges, pushes themselves outside of their comfort zone and shows resilience and perseverance.
Studies show that it is people with a growth mindset (as opposed to a fixed mindset) who achieve in life, are successful in all they do and are happy. Of course, this is exactly what we want for all our children.
At Burpham, pupils are taught how their brains work and how new connections are formed when we try new things and practise them, over and over. Pupils have learnt about famous and influential people who have succeeded due to having a growth mindset and not given up on their goal. We have had PSHE lessons and assemblies about growth mindset, but most importantly, teachers and pupils have embraced the language and the way of thinking that promotes using a growth mindset in all lessons.
- We remember it’s always OK to make mistakes – we learn from them
- We never give up! We try a different approach, or use a different strategy
- We don’t compare ourselves with others, but we do learn from others
- We challenge ourselves – which really helps us make progress
- We take risks – we don’t limit ourselves by taking the easy option
- We know the power of saying ‘YET’ – I can’t do it YET
- We remember that mastering something new feels so much better than doing something you can already do
- We know that our brain is like a muscle that can be developed and which grows in strength with hard work
A Few Mind Shifting Tips for Cultivating a Growth Mindset at Home
- Help children remember 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, practising, and then getting better eg learning to ride a bike.
- Help children get curious about mistakes. Help them to think of mistakes as new information or as a step in the process of learning. Guide them to tackling the problem in a new way
- Help children to use a growth mindset voice
This is hard, but it will get easier
I get better and better with practice
Practice makes permanent.
- Model growth-mindset at the table
At dinner: 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, practise, and/or get better at today/this week?
- Avoid labels
Don’t label yourself in ways that models a “fixed mindset” (e.g., I’m a terrible cook….I was never good at maths.”)
- Give growth-mindset praise
Praise and value effort, practice, self-correction, and persistence rather than intelligence. Otherwise if children get something wrong, they may fear they no longer appear clever and consequently avoid any future challenge for fear of failure
- Get curious about your child’s work through questioning
How did you work that out?
What’s another way you could have done that?
How many times did you try before it turned out that way?
Which part was challenging?
What do you plan to do next?
- Don’t protect your child from failure
Children need to make mistakes and know how to pick themselves up and try again. Otherwise, as they get older, they may be unable to cope with life’s disappointments as they have not learnt how to cope with any sort of failure. Ask “What can you learn from this experience? What could you try differently the next time?”