Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Sheridan Hills Elementary students learn during a field trip to Wood Lake Nature Center
Encouraging a Growth Mindset

Written by Nancy Stachel, Principal at Sheridan Hills Elementary

In school, we focus on having a growth mindset. This means teaching students self-talk that will help them to be successful as they learn new things. We model phrases like "I don't know how to do that yet," "I'll figure it out," "I learned something (rather than saying I made a mistake)," and "I can do hard things." 

Parents and guardians can model this at home by using phrases like these to encourage their children:

  • When your child says they can’t do something or don’t know something, reply, “You can’t do it yet.” or “You don’t know it yet.”
  • "You are so hard-working!" (Say this instead of, "You are so smart!")
  • “Effort is exercise for your brain.”
  • “I love how you didn’t give up, even when the work was difficult.”
  • “Great job being persistent!”
  • “I’m so proud of how you worked through that challenge!”
  • "Thinking is like giving your brain a workout."

During the school day, we work to help students understand that their brain is a muscle to develop and that they are capable of learning. 

When giving feedback, we try to always state the action and the positive impact. For example: "You listened to ____ and helped them understand how to ____." We focus on the positive things because those are the things we want students to repeat.

I always tell students that it is "practice" if you already know how to do it and it is "learning" if it's something new. School is about "learning" to do new things and learning is often hard. The key is to keep trying. 

With the right encouragement, I know all our students will experience success.

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