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Teaching a Growth Mindset at the Boulevard School

Success starts in the mind. Getting our kids outside of their comfort zone is where all of the magic happens, it’s where life begins!

How do we show our kids that a new mindset will help them achieve success? How do we teach our children to develop a willingness to tackle challenges without fear and to not avoid new experiences because of fear of failure, all while having a positive attitude?

It’s called a Growth Mindset. Teaching our kids to not be afraid to fail, but to be afraid not to try. Let that sink in for a minute.

To understand this better, let’s identify the key differences between a Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset.

A Growth Mindset is FREEDOM! You embrace challenges, have a desire to learn new things and are inspired by others' success. You believe that you can develop new abilities through effort and hard work.

A Fixed Mindset is LIMITING! You avoid failure, challenges and give up easily. You believe that your intelligence and abilities are something that you are born with and you can’t improve upon.

Examples of Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset Statements:

  • I can learn to do anything vs. I’m only good at certain things

  • This may take some time and effort vs. This is too hard

  • I like to try new things vs. I stick to what I know

  • I welcome feedback and criticism vs. I take feedback and criticism personally

  • I’m going to train my brain in math vs. I can’t do math

  • I’m going to figure out how he does it vs. He’s so smart

A real life example that many of us parents can relate to is a child that struggles with Math. How often do you hear kids say “I’m not good at math?” Many people believe that math ability is innate, that you’re born with it. When teachers or students believe in this kind of stereotype about math ability, they are endorsing a Fixed Mindset that says some people are better at math than others. But the reality is that students develop math skills incrementally over many years.

Now that we better understand the differences between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset, let’s put it to practice.

How can I help my child develop a Growth Mindset in Math (or any subject for that matter)?

  1. There is no such thing as a “math brain!”

  2. Making mistakes is OK, they are opportunities to learn

  3. Focus on learning vs. getting the correct answer. Teach about how learning happens in the brain.

  4. Give them strategies to succeed and try new ones if something doesn’t work

  5. Provide feedback that promotes effort and learning

  6. Practice the Power of Yet. “I can’t do math + yet!”

  7. Celebrate the process, even mistakes!

Advice for Parents? Here is an excellent math handout from youcubed at Stanford University. Click here!

At the Boulevard School, we work hard to provide an environment that nurtures academic learning, creative expression, growth and development. We believe excellent early childhood education is the foundation every person needs for success.

Our teachers model a Growth Mindset and teach your kids that the brain is like a muscle and that it can be strengthened through hard work, continued effort, persistence and a good attitude!

Looking for a book about Growth Mindset? Oftentimes reading a story can help both parents and kids understand the concept and learn to start communicating better with a Growth Mindset. It takes practice!

Here are some amazing books for your kids that we recommend that relate to Growth Mindset:

  • Bubble Gum Brain by Julia Cook

  • Thanks for the Feedback, I Think by Julia Cook

  • I Knew You Could: A Book for All Stops in Your Life by Craig Dorfman

  • Making a Splash – Growth Mindset for Kids by Carol Reiley

  • Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It By JoAnn Deak

  • A Walk in the Rain with a Brain by Edward Hallowell

  • My Day Is Ruined! A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking by Bryan Smith

  • Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn for Kids by John C. Maxwell

  • When Pigs Fly by Valerie Coulman

  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Have some fun with it and start implementing a Growth Mindset in your own household. We also found some great videos/songs to show your kids:

This Sesame Street video shares a wonderful message to keep trying and you’ll reach your goal.

Here is another video to watch from Mojo, especially for younger kids.

“The mind is everything. What you think, you become”

- Buddha

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