There are a lot of buzzwords thrown around in Education – In the first of a series of blog posts, in which we seek to decode some of those buzzwords, we take a look at the idea of a ‘Growth Mindset’.

One of the most important things we as educators and parents can do for children is to build up their confidence, whilst the same time reassuring them that sometimes, failing, is a necessary part of learning. So what do we mean by a ‘Growth Mindset’?

The most successful learners have been found to be those who are accepting of the idea that knowledge is gained little by little and that skills increase as they are practiced. A child who expects to get everything right first time would not be described as having a growth mindset. We have all come across those children – perfectionists at heart who despair at not understanding immediately and sometimes become so frustrated they give up at the first hurdle. It is a trait some carry on into adulthood with the resulting drop in self esteem causing problems in the workplace.

One of the ways we can combat this is to use phrases which praise a child’s work ethic and don’t focus on results – so try saying thing like:

You are working really hard – I love that!

You get better each time you try

You are focusing so well at the moment

It really shows that you have been practising so hard

That took so much effort – well done!

When things really don’t go to plan we need to encourage resilience and perseverance and offer support – recognising that things aren’t quite right shouldn’t be avoided – useful comments at this stage would be:

So you’ve found that isn’t working – what do you think you could try next?

What do you think went wrong and how do you think we can fix this?

Keep going you are nearly there – shall we try a different way?

Instilling a love of learning and a developing resilient approach to difficulties are two goals that should be at the heart of any learning environment. Next time a child tells you that they can’t do something because it is just too difficult, challenge their thinking and help them to develop a growth mindset which will make them a more confident lifelong learner.


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