I walked up to the front of my classroom and saw one boy who seemed so frustrated. I walked over and tapped him on his shoulder, and he looked up at me.
“Danny, what’s wrong?” I asked kindly.
Danny took a deep breath before answering, “It’s just that everyone in this class is better than me.” His eyes were filling with tears, but they hadn’t spilled over onto his cheeks yet.
He continued, “The other kids are smarter than me; they can do math faster than me; they know more words than me-” As he started to list each item on his fingers for every skill where he was worse off than others in the class- I stopped him from going any further.
There are two types of mindsets when it comes to learning: Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. Danny was displaying a fixed mindset. But what does that mean?
What Does it Mean to Have a Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset?
The words growth and fixed are common words found in the educational field. Professor and researcher Carol Queck uses the term “mindset” to describe how people think about ability and talent. She used this model, which helped change the way people thought about children and their abilities in the educational field.
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It is essential to know the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset as a parent or educator. Of course, many people have both mindsets at different points in their lives, but it’s essential to understand what each means for your children’s development.
Having a growth mindset is the idea that people can always grow and develop through hard work, dedication, and self-reflection. If you have a fixed mindset you have a belief that you are what you are born and that there is no changing it.
What are the Differences between Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset?
The two mindsets have different attitudes towards failure. People with a fixed mindset see failures as evidence of their lack of innate ability. But people with a growth mindset view failures as opportunities to learn how to do something better next time.
A child with a fixed mindset often:
- Gives up when things get tough.
- Feels they are good at particular things and not at others
- Aren’t able to grow in their abilities.
- Picks easier tasks because they know they will be good at those tasks.
An example would be that Simon feels he is a great soccer player. Therefore, he would often choose tasks that deal with soccer or kicking a ball.
A child with a growth mindset feels:
- A task will be easier with some time and practice.
- They can work on all different talents and abilities.
- They haven’t reached their full potential and can get better at something.
- Failure is not the worst thing, and they can try again.
An example would be that Simon enjoys soccer and feels that he could be a good soccer player over time or be a good football player.
Growth Mindset Model
As a special education teacher, I have a growth mindset. I feel that all of my kids have the potential to grow and show growth in their talents and abilities. Unfortunately, most state testing often is fixed. However, the state that I live in is trying to shift more to a growth mindset model.
The growth mindset model requires the students to take a pre and post-test within the school year. If they show a certain amount of growth on the test based on their level, they are considered a passing student on the state test.
The growth mindset helps children recognize their weaknesses and improve those weaknesses rather than giving up on things. Therefore, it is crucial to look at how your children feel about their talents and abilities.
How to Nurture a Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset in Children
A growth mindset is a way to think about yourself, what you can achieve, and what you are capable of becoming in the future. Teaching our children to have a growth mindset allows them to take on challenges without fear, knowing that they will make mistakes along the way. But it is up to them to learn and grow from those experiences.
Parents and educators looking to nurture a growth mindset in children should look for opportunities to praise effort, not just success.
For example, praising a child who tries and fails is more beneficial than one that succeeds but doesn’t try at all. There are also many different ways to foster a growth mindset in your kids outside of the classroom.
Growth Mindset Ideas:
- Praising their efforts even when they don’t have immediate success
- Teaching them about mistakes being something teachers learn from rather than get angry over
- Encouraging them to take on challenges without fear because they must know failure isn’t the worst thing
- Avoid getting angry at them when they make a mistake and focus on the process of growth.
Additional Resources for Growth Mindset in Children
I hope I have provided you with more insight into the difference between a growth mindset vs fixed mindset! Do you have a tip to share? Drop it in the comments below. Here are additional resources you will enjoy exploring.
- 4 Easy Ways to Help Develop Growth Mindset in Kids
- Why is Growth Mindset Important in the Classroom?
- State Testing: 7 Ways to Help Your Special Needs Child Prepare
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