Students and adults who have a growth mindset believe it is within their nature and control to improve, change, grow, and progress with patience and hard work. And they tend to be more successful than those who assume that it is merely intelligence and skills that lead to success. Whether your child is homeschooled, an online learner, or attends a traditional school, you can teach them how to develop this new mindset to help them do better academically.
David Hochheiser defines the growth mindset theory as the belief “that all people, especially within the context of education, are learners with room for improvement.” He references Carol Dweck’s Mindset, which promotes the idea of individuals striving to grow beyond what they’ve accomplished today. In fact, Dweck contends that people who are taught a growth mindset are more motivated and productive in business, education, and sports.
Edudemic describes the growth mindset as one that “thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth. It creates a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval.” Praise for intelligence inhibits learning because students believe that their capacity to learn is fixed. Conversely, students praised for their learning processes and growth performed better and reported their achievements more honestly.
In short, students with a fixed mindset might care more about looking smart than about learning, while students with a growth mindset internalize feedback that builds upon their knowledge and then work to learn and grow.
Here are some suggestions for how your child can develop and practice a growth mindset
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
Edudemic recommends these ways to develop a growth mindset:
1. Develop a support community and collaborate to maintain focus, speed up learning, and sustain interest.
2. Combat fixed thinking with reminders that failure is necessary for growth and that the process is most important.
3. Give up perfectionism, and aim for doing better each time.
4. Focus on the task, not on individual ability.
5. Stop thinking about the outcome, and enjoy learning and growing.
The best way to develop a growth mindset is to appreciate the learning process and recognize student success and effort rather than intelligence and current ability. Once you and your students have cultivated a growth mindset, you will strive for accomplishments, allow yourselves to be curious, and explore beyond your old perceived limitations.
How to Practice a Growth Mindset
Hochheiser recommends five growth mindset practices from Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker’s book Professional Learning Communities at Work:
1. Be humble enough to accept the fact there are things about ourselves and our practices we can improve.
2. Become part of a team that values constructive critique instead of criticism.
3. Treat setbacks as formative struggles within the learning process, rather than as summative failures.
4. Realize that timelines are restrictive in reaching high standards, and use foundational philosophies such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to map systems to support everyone’s growth.
5. Create flexible grouping and avoid trapping anyone in one course level or a particular type of work.
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Related: How to Avoid a “False Growth Mindset” with Your Kids
Featured Image courtesy of Leonard J. Matthews, used with permission