During the January in-service day staff from our school met with colleagues from all our cluster schools to find out more about Growth and Fixed Mindsets. Mindsets is a simple idea discovered by a world renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research into achievement and success, a simple idea that makes all the difference

Dweck’s definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview is as follows:

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.

This is important because (1) individuals with a “growth” theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks and (2) individuals’ theories of intelligence can be affected by subtle environmental cues. For example, children given praise such as “good job, you’re very smart” are much more likely to develop a fixed mindset, whereas if given compliments like “good job, you worked very hard” they are likely to develop a growth mindset. In other words, it is possible to encourage students, for example, to persist despite failure by encouraging them to think about learning in a certain way.”

Across our cluster we are focusing on looking at ways of developing and embedding this simple idea in everything we do and you should hear lots about this work from  there are many ways parents you can help to develop Growth mindset in your children too. One way that parents can really help their children is by carefully choosing the words that are used when they praise them. Every word parents say and action you perform sends a message to your children. These words and actions tell children how to think about themselves. In school we are praising children’s effort rather than their ability and you can do this too. The following table includes some examples.

You are really athletic! You really work hard and pay attention when you are on that field!
You are so smart! You work hard in school and it shows!
Your drawing is wonderful:   you are my little artist I can see you have been practising your drawing; what a great improvement!
You are a great footballer.   You could be the next Ronaldo! Keep practising, and you will see great results!
You always get good marks; that makes me happy. When you work hard and put in lots of effort, it really shows in your work. You should be so proud of yourself. We are proud of you!

So the next time you are ready to praise your child, stop and think about how to use that opportunity to praise his or her effort instead of accomplishments!

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