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.
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.
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