A strategy for preparing children for a successful school experience most often involves praising a children when they display intelligence or ability. However, there is a surprising discovery about the connection between a children's IQ and their ability to succeed in school that would debunk this initial instinct. Carol Dweck, world-renowned Stanford University child psychologist has introduced new studies proving that parents are actually hindering their children's potential success in school by focusing on accomplishments that foster a "Fixed Mindset" verses a "Growth Mindset." By primarily praising their child's ability to succeed, they miss the opportunity to develop their child's, or the potential student's, appetite for challenge. Dweck would argue that praising the key components of a Growth Mindset is more important for the child's success in school. Here are three key components of a Growth Mindset and how to foster those qualities:
Happily Accepts a Challenge
Rather than praising a child for completing a difficult task or puzzle, students need to hear praise that includes why the task was important to complete. If the task is very difficult and failure is a possibility, but the student chooses to accept the challenge, the praiseworthy material and Growth Mindset component lie in that choice. If children are only after the end goal of "success," they are more likely to give up if the task becomes too difficult. Children want to have control of their own failures and successes. By giving up, the child has actively chosen to avoid failure. But if the child's initial goal is less success-oriented, and ultimately motivated by the participation in something challenging, the child will grow regardless of failure or success.
Harnesses an Appetite for Risk
When children step outside their own comfort zones and are willing to accept the risk of rapid change or possible disappointment, there lies an excellent opportunity for the parent to foster a Growth Mindset. Regardless of how high a child's initial IQ level is, his or her ability to learn new things hinges largely on the ability to accept that he or she does not know everything. With this understanding, along with a sense of confidence for exploring new areas, children gain an intense love of more complex learning. The contrast between students who lack this component can most often be seen in school. Quite often, children are stuck in their own comfort zones. They may excel in academics, but are afraid to participate in athletics, or vice versa. An appetite for risk will help a child develop a more balanced and well-rounded mindset. This can easily be fostered through praising students for trying new things and for participating in activities outside familiar territory.
Has Frequent Acquisitions of Skills and Knowledge
While parents may be delighted that their child has a natural ear for music, or accelerated gross or fine motor skills at an early age, fixating on innate traits are more likely to foster a Fixed Mindset. However, looking for contrast and succession in a child's acquisition of skills and newfound knowledge from day to day is a strategy that will develop growth. Praising children who are actively trying to learn something new, regardless of whether or not they are talented in their new interest, will help them to acquire new skills and talents faster. Perhaps the most important natural gift or innate talent a parent could want for their child to possess is the ability to learn new things quickly or at least with an intense focus.
In this video, Bunny Hill, Assistant Headmaster at Wichita Collegiate School, explains the difference between a Fixed Mindset and a Growth Mindset by focusing on a particular study detailed in Dweck's book titled "Mindset." Hill is an expert in child development and an avid study of brain research, and she has incorporated strategies for building a Growth Mindset in the students at Wichita Collegiate School. For more information about these strategies, please feel free to email Bunny Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Wichita Collegiate School, visit www.wcsks.com/.
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