Mindsets for Success: What Parents Should Know
At Langley Park School for Girls, we know that students who have a certain mindset, or attitude to learning, are more successful in school and are happier in their learning. Mindset refers to an attitude to learning. To understand mindsets, it is helpful to distinguish between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset. A Growth Mindset helps students to persevere when faced with challenges. In contrast, a Fixed Mindset leads people to easily give up or settle for tasks that are too easy. The concept of a Growth Mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck and popularised in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
According to Dweck:
“In a Growth Mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
In a Fixed Mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”
How can you support?
Research shows that the language adults use when they give feedback to children is crucial in helping them form a mindset that promotes perseverance and hard work. Understanding Growth Mindset and then making small, yet significant, changes in the way we talk to young people will have a lasting impact.
Praise that emphasises a young child’s efforts, actions, and strategies yields greater persistence and better performance over the long term. Praise that focuses on a young child’s intelligence or talent promotes significantly less persistence and performance.
|When your child is faced with . .||
Point out when she has a
Rather than a
|Challenges||Embraces challenges||Avoids challenges|
|Effort||Sees effort as valuable||Sees effort as pointless|
|Criticism / Feedback||Listens and learns from constructive criticism||Ignores constructive criticism|
|Difficulty||Persists in difficulty||Gives up easily|
|Mistakes||Uses mistakes as an opportunity to learn||Hides mistakes as failures|
|Success of others||Is inspired by the success of others||Feels put off by the success of others|
Examples of Praise that reinforces a Growth Mindset:
When your child succeeds as a result of effort
- You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!
- I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that maths problem until you finally got it.
- It was a long, hard assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. You stayed at the desk, kept up your concentration and kept working. That’s great!
- You have put a lot of thought into that piece of work and it shows by how you have presented your arguments.
You really gave your brain a workout!
When your child is faced with disappointment or struggle
- The beginning is the hardest part of learning something new. Keep going.
- Art is all about making mistakes. Being a good artist is how you respond to those mistakes.
- What do you already know. When does it start to become confusing?
- Of course it’s tough. That’s what learning feels like sometimes!
- Did you know that I try things many times before I get it. Try having another go.
- All successful people have made mistakes along the way.
How are we doing?
The teachers and staff at Langley Girls have embraced the concept of Growth Mindset and have developed strategies to embed this into their teaching across all subjects. For example, in PHSCE students have begun to understand the concept of Growth Mindset and how this can affect us in all walks of life, from learning within the classroom to learning a skill or hobby outside of school.
In English lessons, teachers used Growth Mindset strategies when teaching Shakespeare to encourage academic risk taking. Our aim is that students will experiment more with language without the concern of ‘getting it wrong’. We want them to have a mindset to persevere and challenge themselves when text is difficult.
As a whole school, we have partnered with TailoredPractice, who works with secondary and primary schools to use current research-based strategies to create a climate and culture around perseverance and challenge. A key part of the initiative is working with parents on strategies to support a Growth Mindset in their children. Learn more at www.tailoredpractice.com.
The power of believing that you can improve | Carol Dweck | View video below
- Key research from TailoredPractice
- "The words that could unlock your child", BBC News, 19 April 2011.
- Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Constable & Robinson Limited
- “Opportunity or Setback? Parents’ Views on Failure Influences Children’s Mindsets About Intelligence” by Jess Hennessey, July 2016