Parents often ask teachers what they can do at home to help their children. In the middle and high school years, sometimes the parents feel that they are not capable of helping their children because the content is beyond their ability. This is an opportunity to talk about Growth Mindset with parents. Here are some Growth Mindset suggestions that any parent can do:
- Help your child to understand that effort yields results. Read, study, practice, quiz yourself.
- Tell your child that true learning takes time. You might not "get it" the first time.
- Make sure your child understands that it is OK to make mistakes. We all learn from our mistakes.
- Praise your child for effort; don't praise your child for "being smart". This seems counterproductive, but kids who are rewarded for "being smart" tend to take less chances for fear of losing the "smart" label.
- Never, never, never, never tell your child that you were bad at math or science or anything else. This gives children an excuse for not doing well, and it makes them believe that they have some sort of genetic deformity that predestines them to be bad at these subjects.
So much of these suggestions go against the idea of "playing school"--looking smart, pretending to learn, memorizing stuff for the test, only caring about grades, and not caring about learning. We want students to understand the value of hard work. Learning faster isn't learning better. It's OK to make mistakes. When students hear this from their teachers and then hear it again at home, they will believe it.
Learning isn't a competition. Students with a fixed mindset toward any particular subject can change to a growth mindset if they have supportive teachers and parents that encourage a growth mindset.
Learning real does take a village--a Growth Mindset village would be a pretty good place to live!