How To Boost Academics By Growing Growth Mindset

Many parents worry why their child is not able to achieve their true potential. Most parents, especially in Singapore, turn into enrolling children in multiple tuition classes to enhance their academics. While extra academic aid helps to a certain extend, many parents ignore a very important aspect – the mindset of the child.

The education system in Singapore is highly acclaimed all over the world. It’s academic value has been proven by many international scoring systems. However, is it making children future ready? In order to find that out, let us take a look at what the future demands from the children. The future is looking out for people who are competent in springing up new ideas, capable of communicating those ideas with confidence and keen in collaborating with others to implement those ideas.

The rise of gig economy where we see people work on short term assignments will demand quick adaptation to changes a necessity. This will also expect people to learn much quickly than the current pace. In order to cope with all these requirements of the future, we need to encourage growth mindset in children. This will not only help them in the future, this will also make them work effectively under the academic pressure they are facing now.

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What is growth mindset?

Growth mindset is a term coined by the famous Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. She studied the behaviour of thousands of children and argued that it is not just the abilities and the talent that guide children towards the path of success. She divides the mindset into two – Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset.

A person with “fixed mindset” believes that we are born with certain amount of intelligence, talent and creativity and that do not change during our lifetime. A person with fixed mindset relates their successes and failures as the proof of their talent and intelligence. They would try to avoid situations and challenges where they fear they would fail. On the otherhand, a person with growth mindset does not relate successes and failures to their intelligence. They see success as a result of the efforts they put in and the challenges they overcame and the failures as opportunities for learning and improvement. This difference in thinking lead people with growth mindset to take up challenges and opportunities with confidence and always strive to give their best in every situation.

With a growth mindset, children could achieve higher grades, work towards achieving their targets and learn from their experiences and failures.

How does Growth mindset help?

In the past, scientists thought our brain stops growing as soon we cross our twenties. It was believed that our intelligence and talent were fixed at birth. Research in the last few decades, has shown that human brain never stops growing. It keeps learning and gets smarter depending on what it is exposed to. So, the intelligence and talent can go up or down. A growth mindset gives the attitude to children to take on challenges and to work towards their goals. The more they use their intelligence and skills, the more their intelligence and skills grow.

How can you develop growth mindset in your child?

There are many areas you can focus on while adopting a growth mindset for your family or students.

1. Praise them for the effort

When you tell a child that “you are intelligent”, you are not at all helping that child. Instead, you are creating a fixed mindset in the child. It is not the praising that helps a child, it is how you praise that helps a child.

When you praise a child for their achievement, you can do it in two ways:

  • You can praise to push them down into a fixed mindset or
  • you can praise to raise them into the growth mindset.

When you praise the child for the results, you are limiting their potential by cementing the fixed mindset. But when you praise them for the efforts, you are expanding their horizon to grow the growth mindset. When you praise them, praise them for the behaviour that they followed in achieving what they have achieved. This will help to ascertain that the efforts and the behaviour they practiced in this situation could be consistently used in other situations as well.

When your child gets an ‘A’ in their test, you praise them for their effort in achieving that, not for achieving an ‘A’. Did they put a lot of efforts into it? Did they show the initiative to gather sufficient information about that topic from various sources and people? Did they come up with some new study plans recently? Tell them what are some of their efforts that led them to achieve what they achieved. Is it applicable only when they achieve an ‘A’? – Definitely not. It is applicable in every situation. If they did not get the results you expected, it does not mean that they did everything wrong, there should be something right that they did in spite of the not so favourable results.

2. Embrace Challenges

Carole Dweck’s research saw 90% of students showing interest in embarking on a challenging new task with a learning opportunity, when they were praised for their efforts. Whereas, when they were praised for their intelligence and/or their talent they were reluctant to try challenging tasks. This is because they were scared that if they fail, it will be reflected negatively on their image of being intelligent or talented.

On the other hand, a growth mindset gives children the attitude to work for what they want to achieve overcoming the challenges on the way.

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3. Learn from failures

Something went wrong? It is natural to feel bad about it. But, is there anything else we can do? In spite of the failure, see what are certain things that went well, certain efforts they did right. What are certain lessons they learned? How can they use this mistake to make their future pursuits better?

In the infographic here, you can see how a child with growth mindset would approach various situations. Are you ready to guide your child to adopt that mindset?

There is a need of deeper understanding among the educators to practice growth mindset inside and outside their classrooms through their actions and communication. We can’t expect children to pick up a growth mindset simply by telling them what growth mindset is. Growth mindset involves a lot of motivating and right communication. Teachers, parents and caretakers need to demonstrate a growth mindset when they deal with children. It takes the whole community to make a mindset change. Let us start it right at our homes and classrooms.

Would you like to hang the above poster on growth mindset in the classroom or in your child’s room? You can download a high resolution copy of the infographics here.

Check out  our workshops on growth mindset here.

You can find more on how to encourage your child to study here.

Share this article with your friends and colleagues, so that they too are aware of this amidst their busy schedules. 

Do you have any insights or tips that you use? Would you like to share that? Please use the comments section below and let us know!

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© 2017, Sindu Sreebhavan. All rights reserved.

About Sindu Sreebhavan

Sindu Sreebhavan is the founder of As Many Minds Minds Pte Ltd and the chief editor of The Kidz Parade Edutainment magazine, Asia's premium publication for cultivating creativity and creative writing in children. Sindu is also the founder of International Youth Leadership and Innovation Forum (IYLIF). With a passion to infuse innovation in education and inject innovative mindset in people, Sindu writes, speaks and consults on innovation and creativity in business and education. She says innovation does not start with invention, it starts with a mindset. “The best gift you can give a child is the power of Confidence, Creativity and Communication” is her tagline. She is passionate about educating educators, parents and children about youth development, youth leadership, education innovation and 21st century education. She supports children, parents, schools and several organisations in these areas.