Remember your first day on the job. How often did you make mistakes? Even if you did not make mistakes, can you truly say that as a professional, your consistent practice hasn’t improved your skill and output? As parents, it’s easy to ignore that child development is not just about providing your child with resources for learning, but by fostering an environment that enhances intelligence. A key block of creating this environment is the Growth Mindset.
A growth mindset is a psychological concept that recognizes the elasticity of the brain and applies this to how people learn. Simply put, your child’s brain is elastic. It can expand, or contract. His intelligence is not fixed as there is no quota of intelligence that God gave your child, which he cannot exceed. With a growth mindset, it doesn’t matter that your child isn’t making you proud of her grades. What matters is that your child can become more intelligent, if you follow good practices for child development. Yes, this starts with YOU, the parent.
The purpose of this blog is to give you practical tips on how you can foster a growth mindset, and help your child become more intelligent. A Lot of the material used here is taken from the work of Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, and the world’s leading advocate for applying principles of the growth mindset in schools.
Growth mindset vs Fixed mindset
Telling your child ‘you failed’ sends a message that they are not enough to get a good grade. But telling the same student ‘you’re not there yet’ passes a message that while they did not achieve an A score, they still can if they do the work that’s necessary to get there. The fixed mindset says ‘this is as intelligent as you’re ever going to be’. This is dangerous because students who have a fixed mindset have a self-inflicted mental threshold that they never attempt to exceed. It doesn’t matter that a problem is simple, they’re convinced that they’re not intelligent enough to tackle it. Such students never discover their potential, because they never try. This perhaps is the most damning consequence of a fixed mindset.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, sets an upward trajectory for intelligence. “You may have got a D, but it’s not because your intelligence isn’t enough. You got a D this time, but there is room for improvement. Next time, go for C, and soon enough you’ll get an A”. This is a healthy way to grade students. By changing the way you grade your children, you’re passing a message to their minds that they can become more intelligent. The key here is to express that you feel they can do better. Then, help them do better.
“You failed maths? Okay, that’s bad but it can be remedied. Which parts didn’t you understand? Algebra? Okay. We’ll get you, someone, to tutor you on Algebra … Oh, you still don’t understand Algebra? Maybe you need to study with your friends … “
“Ah nice, you got a C in your last Algebra test. That’s good, but you can do better, I know you can. So, now you need to practice more. Look, kid, I know you already put in one-hour per week, but if you want to be good at it, you will need more effort. Which of your friends can you study with? I think I found a maths game that you can play. Anyways, by the time we’re done adding new Algebra focused activities, you’ll be doing up to 5 hours of Algebra per week, practicing and getting better. I’m sure you’ll get an A at the end of the term.”
From this example, you see that the objective is not just to improve the grades, but to help the child refine the process of learning Algebra. A parent who takes this approach has taught his child an important life lesson – nothing good comes easy. This parent also fosters a growth mindset. It is not the grades that matter, but the process of learning. Child development should always be organic.
Things you can do to foster a growth mindset today:
Praise wisely – don’t praise the results, praise the effort they put in. Make them understand that the process is more important than the result. If you feel like they aren’t putting in enough effort, tell them. They will start to appreciate work, more than they appreciate results. Praise effort, strategy, focus, perseverance, and most importantly, their improvement. After all, results are only as good as the effort we invest into achieving them.
Watch your language – the way you speak to your children is important, but the way you allow them to speak to themselves is even more so. Make your children create colorful posters for their room. Let these posters contain affirmations such as “Learning to solve a new problem grows your brain”, or even “Don’t worry about getting everything right at once. Worry about how you can make small, daily improvements to your work”. Keep these posters around the house, so the whole family can remember that their brains can get stronger.
You should also ensure that you get the right tutors for your children. The tutors at Onlinegenie.com are well screened and trained before they are accepted. They know how to teach, and help your children develop a growth mindset. This is especially important, you don’t know exactly how your children are being taught at school. The right private tutor can really help your child develop the right approach to learning, and impact their growth in school.
Until your child is 18 years old, you’re pretty much responsible for them. There are things nobody can do for you. The teachers at school have to deal with many students every day, and cannot have the personal touch of a parent. That is why it is important for parents to understand the growth mindset, and help their children develop it. Every child is a genius, but not every parent knows how to bring out that genius. Are you willing to take a proactive path to child development?