What's It All About?
At Bowmandale Primary School, our children and staff are all learning about 'Growth Mindset'. Mindsets are beliefs; beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Think about your intelligence, your talents, your personality. Are these qualities simply fixed traits, carved in stone and that’s that? Or are they things that you can cultivate throughout your life?
People with a fixed mindset believe that their traits are just givens; that they have a certain amount of intelligence and talent, and nothing can change that. If they have lots of intelligence, they’re all set, but if not then what’s the point in trying? People in this mindset worry about their traits and how adequate they are. They have something to prove to themselves and others.
People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, see their qualities as things that can be developed through their effort and hard work. Sure they’re happy if they’re naturally talented, but that’s just the starting point. They understand that no one has ever accomplished great things – not Mozart, Darwin or Michael Jordan – without years of passionate practice and learning.
In our assemblies and classrooms we are learning about the two types of mindsets that children and adults can have, a 'fixed' mindset and a 'growth' mindset. Below is an overview of the traits of each:
- I like my work to be easy
- I don't like to try a challenge
- I want people to praise me for how clever I am
- I believe I cannot change how clever I am
- I don’t like to try new things because I won’t be very good at it
- I give up easily
- I never give up
- I like my work to be difficult – it means I am learning
- I love challenges
- I want people to praise me for the effort I put into my work
- I believe I can get more intelligent by working hard
- I feel clever when I'm learning something new
- I learn from my mistakes
It has been proven that having a Growth Mindset can improve children's progress and attainment. As a result, we are teaching our children that by having a Growth Mindset they can grow their brains and intelligence and achieve anything they want!
What does it mean for children's learning?
You may have heard your child talking about how they've been into "the pit" at school! Below is a visual aid that we have introduced to the children to describe their learning journeys throughout the day. We want the children to understand that it is okay to be stuck, and that some of their best learning is done when they find things the hardest. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort, perseverance and persistence.
We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. For children who find work easy we make sure they encounter more difficult tasks. We want our children to recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve.
The growth mindset approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too: we always mark giving 'next steps' so that all learning for all children, even the most able, is seen as a way to grow. If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure: we teach our children to see mistakes and failure as positive. This makes for a very energetic and inclusive culture. It also has a really positive effect on our ethos and on how children approach learning and support each other.
How could I help my child to develop a growth mindset?
The key to developing a growth mindset is to practise changing the language that we use with our children. For example, a child with a fixed mindset might say, 'I can’t do this!' This clearly shows a lack of perseverance and resilience towards learning. You could encourage them to change their mindset by adding 'yet' onto the end of their sentence; this reinforces the idea that they are capable of achieving their goal but need to change their strategies or keep trying in order to get there. Here are some more ideas to help your child to adapt the language that they use I relation to their learning:
Top tips for supporting your child at home
- Praise the amount of effort your child is putting into things rather than how clever they are.
- Talk to your children about their brain being like a muscle - the more they use it, the stronger it gets (and the more connections are made in your brain).
- Encourage your children to not give up if they are finding something difficult; instead encourage them to embrace challenges.
- Challenge your children to try something new or challenging. Remind them that it will 'develop connections in their brains'.
- Discourage envy of peers and talk to your child about what they can learn from others who appear more successful. While skills may come more easily to some, most often there’s a (possibly unseen) element of practice, persistence, and hard work which leads to achievement.
- Be a growth mindset role model; be honest - how often do you say 'I can’t (cook/sing)' or 'I'm terrible at (sports/spelling)' as if there’s no hope for you? Make sure you’re sending the right message – maybe even take on something new! Try adding the word 'yet' when your child says they can't do something.
If you would like more information on Growth Mindsets, please speak to Miss Turner or arrange to make an appointment with her through the office. Below are some websites which will provide you with further information should you wish to find out more.
Embracing a growth mindset isn’t always easy, but can have a huge impact on your child…