Summer is a time for exploration and adventure, but that does not mean education stops. Our children are always learning no matter the time, place, or classroom - inside or out. Nature and quality family activities offer just as many, if not more, lessons to our kids than the inside of a schoolroom. This summer make a commitment to continuing your child’s education in a fun, loving, environment encouraging the development of a growth mindset, the acquisition of which will benefit him forever. Here are some tips on how to teach your child to truly embrace a growth mindset this summer.
What is a Growth-Mindset vs. a Fixed-Mindset?
As parents, we all want what is best for our children educationally, socially, and emotionally, however sometimes we just don’t know how to get there. Each and every one of us is doing the best we can, but with a few alterations to our parenting style we may just be able to further benefit the growth and development of our children in so many ways. One of the things we can do every day at home is to try and teach or develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset in our children.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” – Carol S. Dweck
A growth mindset is one that believes through hard work, trial and error, and acceptance of our failures combined with a willingness to try again we can grow and develop faster and further than we would otherwise be able. It encompasses the belief that your intelligence and your abilities are not static traits or characteristics and are instead something to be honed and developed through hard-work and a willingness to learn.
The opposite of this is a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is one that believes that you are born with a certain degree of intelligence and/or abilities and that there is little you can do to change that. A fixed mindset is one who believes he is “smart” or “dumb”, an “English person” or a “math person” and sees these as unchangeable qualities.
For example: An individual who claims to be bad at math suffers from a fixed mindset, truly believing that she was simply born this way, cannot do anything to change it, and thus will not put in much effort. Someone with a growth mindset would acknowledge her deficiency in math, but view it rather as a challenge to keep practicing, believing that with continued practice and setbacks she will develop a better understanding and one day succeed.
The Benefits of a Growth-Mindset.
Children taught to develop a growth-mindset are more apt to learning new things and accepting or even seeking out challenges. The belief that their intelligence is malleable and not static encourages kids when working on difficult tasks to keep trying. If a child instead sees a certain talent or ability as a something one is born with, there is no incentive to try and accomplish some specific goals because there is already the preconception that the goal is unattainable. Children then tend to develop the attitude that they just cannot do it, or resign themselves to believing they are somehow truly unable to complete a certain task or assignment successfully.
When children are taught within the concept of a growth mindset they are praised for their effort rather than their abilities…instead of telling a child he or she is so smart, give credit for being a hard worker or for persevering through a tough assignment. This encourages a child to keep trying until she is successful rather than addressing an innate quality or talent. Further, praising effort alone is not enough and one must inspire the child to continue working through different strategies to success for the learning process to be complete. This teaches kids that success is tied to hard work and effort and that they can change their outcome or result, rather than simply something one is born possessing. In this day and age the millennial crisis should make it obvious to us as parents, that a fixed mindset and the constant praise once believed to be best for establishing a child’s self-esteem was not necessarily ideal.
Further, with the advances in research about brain-based learning and the concept of neuroplasticity – the idea that neural connections in the brain change, remap, and reorganize themselves when one experiences new things, learns new information, or practices certain skills over time – a growth mindset will allow our children to flourish. If kids are taught to keep solving problems and seeking solutions amid multiple failed attempts, their little brains are constantly growing, changing, and adjusting, forming new and greater neural connections allowing them to learn faster and better, understanding future, more difficult concepts quicker than before.
Education for Instilling a Growth-Mindset in your child
The most popular educational model teaching and facilitating a growth mindset in our young children is that of Montessori. Montessori classrooms allow our children the space, freedom, time, and gentle instruction to grow, work, and explore until successful. Classrooms in Montessori schools are set up in such a fashion that the work becomes progressively more difficult, but all lessons are also self-correcting. These lessons allow children to try over and over again learning from their own mistakes along the way with no external correction or judgment.
Not only does the Montessori method give children the time and space to think about what they did right or wrong while working on their lessons, it also allows them to practice repeatedly until successful giving them an incredible sense of achievement once they have figured it out on their own. Children taught using the Montessori Method learn love learning due to an intrinsic motivation, not outside rewards. Unlike traditional classrooms, these children are working and learning because of their own curiosity inspired by the lessons themselves and the pleasure they derive from the task itself or the sense of accomplishment they feel upon completion.
Hand-in-hand with the theory of growth mindset, a Montessori education inspires children to love learning because it teaches them perseverance, that failure is simply a step on the road to mastery, and that they have the ability to complete difficult tasks on their own. This emboldens the child’s self-esteem and prepares them for their future as children who learn they can do difficult things will become teens and eventually adults who believe the same. A Montessori education (or at least beginning) is truly the best education you can give your child.
Unfortunately for many parents finding a Montessori school for children at the elementary level and above can be difficult in many areas and simply unaffordable in others. However, that does not mean that parents cannot learn to encourage the continuation or development of a growth mindset at home. At times many of us as human beings display characteristics of both fixed and growth mindset depending on our circumstances. While we may have a fixed mindset when it comes to amortizing our mortgage payment schedule, we may also display a growth mindset where we are simultaneously training for a “seemingly impossible” triathlon. So frequently as adults there are certain tasks we claim we cannot do while still taking on the challenges of others.
The goal is to be willing to try new things, open our mind to learning, and accept failure as progress or growth while still forging ahead. This is what we need to instill in our children. As parents we need to set an example and encourage them to persevere no matter how difficult the task. We need to set realistic goals or challenges for our children and allow them to work through these tasks on their own.
Tools for Developing a Growth-Mindset
This summer is the perfect opportunity for parents to begin exploring the idea of growth mindset and working to instill this trait in their children. No parent wants their child to waste the summer sitting on a couch in front of a tablet or television, so this year make a commitment to spending an enjoyable and educational summer with your children sending them back to school in the fall inspired to work harder and do better.
One of the tools we love for our children on this journey is the Big Life Journal. Start your child off early on the path to success by helping them develop the mindset they need to achieve their goals.
With inspirational stories from the lives of some of the most influential leaders such as Elon Musk, J.K. Rowling, and Walt Disney, your kids are sure to love this journal. Full of growth mindset activities to get your children thinking, this guided journal incorporates reading, writing and critical thinking all while honing social and emotional skills too.
The Big Life Journal will help your elementary and middle school child learn to embrace challenges and accept failures as learning experiences on the path to success much like the stories of their inspirational role models. With the added benefit of improving and practicing their fine motor skills and penmanship, the Big Life Journal is a constructive and valuable teaching tool for continuing your child’s education at home this summer.
EXPLORE AND CONNECT
While the Big Life Journal addresses your child’s growth-mindset advances in the language field, challenge your child this summer in the math and social/emotional development areas as well. With the dual functionality of teaching our children early math skills and social and humanitarian principles, we love the story of the Three Cups along with the Savvy Pig Banking System.
Lack of financial responsibility is a huge problem in the world today. So many people across a span of generations are all living well OUTSIDE of their means. As a society, many of us have become accustomed to living in debt from student loans to credit cards to home mortgages including PMI. Salaries have not increased to coincide with property values, and for many of us trying to raise children no longer living near friends or family, increased costs in childcare, car payments, and daily living expenses are significantly higher than they were for our predecessors. That said, teaching our children financial responsibility from an early age is of the utmost importance.
Summertime is the perfect opportunity to get your children involved and helping out around the house. In doing so, implement an allowance system whereby your kids can be paid for their tasks or jobs and then turn it into a teachable moment.
Begin by reading with your children the story of the Three Cups. Ideal for teaching children not only to spend, save, and give, this book imparts important lessons about money, including the ideal that it is not how much money you have that is important, but rather how you use it. No one wants to work a job simply to survive, but would rather have the ability to do something he loves every day, so instill this valuable lesson now. Teach your kids that developing a positive and healthy relationship with money will lead to a happier future.
Perfect for using in connection with the story of the Three Cups is the Money Savvy Piggy Bank. This divided piggy bank has 4 separate money collecting sections for saving, spending, donating and investing. Teaching your child about money using this 4-part system allows them to begin building smart money management habits from pre-school on when they are so open to learning. With the goal of allowing children to “get smart about money”, the piggy bank is designed to help teach important concepts such as bartering, interest rates, goal-setting, smart-spending, philanthropy, and long-term investing.
With an available app that will help track and teach savings and smart money management, the Savvy Pig gives children an interactive experience with their money and allows them the control and decision-making power over how it is spent, saved, donated, or invested. Giving children a sense of control over their money empowers them to think about their choices, and both the benefits and consequences to their decisions; mistakes will be made with their money, but like anything else this teaches our kids valuable lessons.
Empowerment, control, and a sense of financial security will one day allow our children not only to survive but to thrive in the greater world marketplace. Teaching our children today will allow them to live in a happier, healthier, more financially secure environment tomorrow.
Finally, what is summertime learning without STEM? As parents we may not want our children spending all summer indoors on a computer or tablet, however many of our kids love and thrive with these type of educational activities. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) has taken over many of our children's classrooms and allowing them to learn or continue improving their skill set over the summer benefits them in the long run. Aligned with the principles of developing a growth-mindset, STEM activities generally require hard work and dedication with great reward and feelings of accomplishment upon successful completion.
This summer while your child reads the stories of great inventors such as Elon Musk in their Big Life Journal, encourage their own innovation and imagination with a STEM activity kit from Microduino. From magnetic blocks to legos, all children love to build and design so let them bring their creations to life this summer by teaching basic (and more advanced depending on your child's age) lessons in hardware coding, electronics, and product design with Microduino. Allowing children to experiment, explore, and complete hands-on learning activities encourages and enhances their imagination, creativity, and ingenuity.
Microduino's hands-on STEM/STEAM learning kits are designed to encourage children to explore and understand the intersecting concepts of electronics, product design, and hardware coding. Rather than simply allowing the child to build a single mechanical creation, Microduino believes in enabling the child to take these projects one, two or ten steps further to understanding the how, why, and control behind the design. By teaching children the logic, sequential nature and programmable aspects of a product's design and operation, they can develop more advanced skills and techniques with these progressive, educational kits.
Microduino's project kits and learning systems are aligned with the latest Next Generation of Science Standards, International Society for Technology in Education, and Common Core Guidelines for STEM. With Microduino's STEM kits your child's design and configuration possibilities are endless, limited only by their own creativity and imagination.
Children need to learn to love learning. Formal education can only take you so far, and we must teach our kids to overcome obstacles, break through boundaries, and discover that learning and lessons are everywhere. Everything in life is a teachable moment and if your child learns early on to open their mind to the possibilities without fear of failure, their opportunities are endless. Give your child the gift of a growth oriented mindset making nothing off-limits, allowing him to cast aside inhibitions and reach for the stars.