As I watched the Olympics last month, I thought about how much time and effort go into becoming an Olympic athlete. While watching background stories about Olympians, I heard over and over again about the early age they began their training and the normal day-to-day activities they had given up in the name of their goal.

I then reflected on my own experiences in the classroom and realized many students believe effort isn’t a part of the equation for academic success. They believe they were born smart or they weren’t. As a matter of fact, parents and students alike are known to excuse poor performance away with a broad stroke of “I was never good at math.”

The human brain is complex. We can learn through persistence and effort. The difference between the Olympic athlete and a student in the classroom begins with believing your brain can learn and grow. What! You mean I can train my brain? Yes.

Believing your brain can learn and grow is known as a growth mindset.  Basically, growth mindset is a belief that you can achieve success with hard work and perseverance. While a fixed mindset, on the other hand, is a belief that we are born with a certain level of intelligence and we can’t change.

Growth Mindset Quote

We all want our children to be smart and find success. Consider implementing the following five brain strategies in your own home to promote a growth mindset:

1) Be specific when complementing your child. Instead of announcing how smart he/she is when they bring home a good grade on a test, compliment the work that lead to the success.

2) Share personal examples of how persistence paid off. Ask children to share their own examples.

3) Model the benefits of learning from your mistakes. Share mistakes you have made that have helped you to find success.

4) Recognize the control you have over your own of success.

5) Explain the difference between believing in a growth mindset and fixed mindset. When they make comments about school and learning, ask them which type of mindset they are using.

If you are interested in reading more about mindsets, read Carol S. Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.”

Have you worked hard to achieve a personal goal? Tell me about it in the comments.

Angela Culley

Angela Culley

Owner & Tutor at Math Ninja, LLC
As the founder of Math Ninja, Angela provides online and in person math tutoring for all ages including those studying for the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, PPST, and other math specific subject assessments. Prior to launching her business, Angela coached K-12 educators on effective teaching strategies, curriculum writing, and assessment development.As a classroom teacher, she taught math to students ranging from grade 5 - 12. She has also taught both undergraduate and graduate math courses as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia and Mountain State University.
Angela Culley
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7 thoughts on “5 Brain Strategies for Learning Every Parent Should Know

  • Pingback: 10 Signs that Your Child May Need a Tutor

  • March 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm
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    These are great strategies!
    Thank you for stopping by the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop this week. We hope to see you drop by our neck of the woods next week!

  • March 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm
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    Angela,

    One of my favorite books! Glad to see other educators out there promoting growth-mindset principles. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  • March 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm
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    Wow! What a great story! I often worry about grouping children for math and how it teaches them that they are smart or not smart and how that can affect their outlook on learning in general. This is definitely a feel good story.Thanks for sharing!

  • March 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm
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    I completely agree with you here. At the end of third grade, my daughter was asked to take a test that would determine which kids would go into an accelerated math program in 4th grade. She had never liked math and didn’t want to take it. I convinced her. Her score was one of the lower scores to get into the class. She didn’t want to take it, because she didn’t want to be, in her words, “one of the dumbest kids in the class.” Again, I convinced her, saying if it really was too difficult, we would allow her to move back into the other class. She’s a very determined kid in general and works hard, so I knew once she was in the class, she would be fine. Sure enough, I was right. She excelled in the class. Even though they dropped the program for the rest of intermediate school, her love for math has continued and she was in an accelerated program in the middle school. Now she’s a freshman in high school, doubling in two honors math classes and thinking about math majors for college. All because of one math class that she thought she was “too dumb” to take that turned out to be a great experience instead!

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