For any child, the path to success has its hurdles. But children must learn to overcome these hurdles and be confident in their own ability. They can do this if they have a growth mindset.
Teaching a growth mindset is not always easy. But, when a child has a growth mindset, they’ll achieve wonderful things.
What is a growth mindset?
If a child has a growth mindset, they believe in the power of hard work. Good things don’t come to those who wait – they come to those that work for them.
Children with a growth mindset believe that they can develop their skills and talents by working hard, being well supported and having good strategies in place.
Here are 5 ways to teach children a growth mindset:
1. Make learning happen everywhere
Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Whether you take them to the library or museum, explore rock pools at the beach or take them out for an ice cream, turn all of their experiences into lessons.
Encourage children to think and develop their own opinions and ideas. Ask questions. Listen to their answers.
Simple questions that can encourage a child to reflect on their experiences include:
- “What kind of creatures do you think we’ll find in this rockpool? How did they get here?”
- “What kind of ice cream would you create, if you had the choice?”
- “What did this dinosaur eat? How can you tell?”
2. Use positive talk
Children believe in their abilities when they believe in themselves. Eventually they’ll build their own self-esteem, but first it must come from the adults that they see day to day.
Make sure that you’re using positive, affirming language when you’re interacting with any child. But don’t focus on a child’s intelligence, which they cannot control. Instead, focus on their skills. Use phrases like:
- “I believe in you”
- “I’m proud of you”
- “You’re a good friend”
- “You’re so helpful”
The words that you use will be absorbed by the child, and will form the voice in their head.
3. Help them to form learning strategies
Children are not all the same. Each child has a distinct way of learning that might differ from the way their peers learn. Help your student to find what works best and provide learning opportunities to suit their learning style.
In large, overcrowded classrooms, however, it’s very difficult for teachers to accommodate every single individual learning style. We’d need to keep them in school 24 hours a day, just to meet the needs of every child.
Luckily parents don’t need to rely solely on teachers for their child’s education – even a weekly one-to-one session with a tutor outside of school can be hugely beneficial, so this should be encouraged (where possible, of course).
4. Let children make choices
Children need to believe in their own ability to make the right decision. That starts with opportunities to make choices – and to experience consequences.
Let them know that a large part of their learning is in their own hands – that they have the power to achieve success if they make the right choices.
Teach a child that they’re in control of their destiny. Small decisions now will lead to greater confidence in the future.
5. Reward the process
Don’t reward a child for what they achieve at the end. Reward them for the process that led them to that goal. A child that can easily read a long book is not any more valuable than the child that can’t complete it, but sits for an hour and tries their best.
Developing a growth mindset takes time, but brings rewards that will last for a lifetime.