So, my pandemic project has been learning how to bake pies. Armed with a recipe from the internet and high hopes, my first attempt was… passable, but only just (see below). As I anticipated, the dough was tricky. I had been tempted multiple times during the process to just give up and say, “I can’t do it! It’s TOO HARD!”
However, I was determined to get it down, so I researched online to get some pointers. I ended up cobbling together a modified recipe based on what I learned, and I used canned pie filling for a couple months so all my efforts were focused on learning how to work with the dough. Before long, I noticed that I was starting to get the knack for it, and the results were showing!
So, why am I sharing my personal pie problems on a blog about back to school? Because it just happens to illustrate a growth mindset beautifully! When my first attempt at pie crust didn’t live up to my expectations, I took stock of what went well, I searched for what I could improve on, and I tried again … and again! A growth mindset is one that see things such as intelligence and talents as qualities that can be improved over time. A person with a growth mindset anticipates personal improvement over time and sees mistakes as chances to learn and improve. This is contrasted to a fixed mindset, which holds that intelligence, talents, etc. are qualities that one is born with, meaning you either have it or you don’t. When met with challenges, people with a fixed mindset will give up quickly, believing that they just can’t do it and any effort to try again would be pointless.
I hope it is apparent that children who can tap into a growth mindset enjoy many benefits, such as increased confidence, higher levels of resilience, and the desire to keep trying. In a school setting, this results in students who look forward to new learning experiences and keep trying even if they don’t get it the first time. So, how do we foster a growth mindset in children? It’s easy as PIE!
P: PRACTICE a growth mindset yourself!
If there was one tip that I could give parents when they want to see a certain behavior in their child, it is to practice it yourself! Children learn by modeling the behaviors and values of the important adults in their lives, meaning they will start modeling whatever mindset you show them at home. Take the time to learn about growth mindset and find ways to demonstrate it with your child. Be vocal and intentional with your process. Try saying, “This is hard, but I know I can do it if I keep trying!” Not only does this help demonstrate that you value a growth mindset, it will also increase empathy for your child when they meet their own difficulties. You’ll be able to understand how hard it is to keep trying. Then, you can have an honest, open discussion with them about it. So start practicing!
I: INTRODUCE the concept of “yet”!
A fixed mindset will say, “I can’t do it!” A growth mindset will say, “I can’t do it … yet!” That small word makes all the difference! By reminding your child that they can’t do it yet, you are letting them know that you believe they can do it given some time and practice. Also, normalize mistakes and failures during the process. This teaches children that they are just a normal part of the growth process. I personally like remembering that a FAIL is just a First Attempt In Learning.
E: EMPHASIZE EFFORT over achievement!
Too often in school, the emphasis is on a child’s achievement instead of their effort. Grade cards are the biggest culprit of this. While everyone likes to see As and Bs, take it from this former teacher that a well-earned C can be just as rewarding. Take the time to recognize the effort a child is putting into their schoolwork instead of just the achievement. If they are proud of a grade, ask them what they did to work towards it. Praise them for the effort. If they are disappointed in a score, begin by asking them to reflect on the amount of work they put into the score. Then problem-solve with them about what they can do different to increase their effort. When your child learns that they are the one who controls the amount of effort put into something, they will be able to see their grades (or any other achievement) as a result of that effort instead of just a natural talent that they may or may not have.
Of course, there are many other ways to start encouraging a growth mindset in your child. However, starting with these basics will lay a foundation for the change to take hold. Add just a slice to your daily routine, and pretty soon you’ll find it’s just as easy as pie!
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