We have already had two parent workshops and will be offering two more in the new year. In October, we talked about Promoting a Growth Mindset. This presentation builds on the research about underachievement and, though seemingly simple, is pretty profound. Though we may think that telling our child that he or she is smart is a positive step toward nurturing their self-esteem, we may actually be doing them harm. Rather than give our children the message that they were born smart and we can see this when they do things quickly and easily which indicates that intelligence is a set quality that can’t be changed, we want to promote a growth mindset.
In a growth mindset, students come to see that intelligence can be nurtured and expanded through effort, that anyone can change and grow to meet their individual potential and that failures provide information about what needs to be done to reach the next skill level. When we start to think about our own attitudes about intelligence and success we begin to see the ways in which we may be promoting a set mindset in our students.
Some ways that you may begin to change your own thinking and that of your child are to praise effort, practice and process rather than outcome, emphasize the joy of learning for learning’s sake, let your child see you taking reasonable risks, share how you deal with challenges and how you continue to learn and work together to identify areas of challenge and make concrete plans for improvement. Biographies in the form of books or documentaries are a great springboard for a discussion about how people become successful. Kids these days are inundated with half-hour shows about famous people who seem to have just been lucky and had material excesses showered down upon them. The finer details about a life story included in a biography will likely provide a more realistic perspective.