The Growth Mindset: Why Is It Important and How Can It Be Fostered?

The term ‘growth mindset’ describes a belief that one’s current abilities, talents, skills, and knowledge are not fixed or limited. Instead, they can be strengthened and developed over time through grit, determination, resilience, and hard work — and with help from others.

This is an important skill and approach to life. It’s crucial to hone and foster a growth mindset for anyone pursuing an education. Instead of seeing a challenge, obstacle, or failure as the end of the line, students who adopt this philosophy can pivot and evolve — making setbacks a challenging hurdle that can be overcome. This mentality can help students to navigate not only educational hurdles, but social and professional barriers, too — allowing them to flourish and thrive later in life. 

A growth mindset isn’t something we’re born with, however. It’s something that we need to nurture and nourish. Here are some ways to foster a growth mindset.

Teach Self-Advocacy

First, knowing when and how to speak up for oneself is essential. Often students will sit back and feel unsure about their perspective or opinion. They can lack confidence and feel anxious about seeking help from their teachers and peers. And they shy away from participating due to the risk of looking silly or drawing unwanted attention.

Equipping students with the skills to advocate for their own learning will allow them to ask for extra guidance, time, or feedback when needed. Self-advocacy in education guarantees that they understand the course content (enabling them to move forward with good grades), but it also shows them that speaking up for themselves can be beneficial in multiple ways — which will stand them in good stead in professional and social situations moving forward.

Encourage Proactivity

Taking a proactive approach to overcoming a challenge is crucial. Having a growth mindset means instead of evading obstacles, you pursue them. For example, if your child or teen is struggling with a course (or courses), providing them with the option to take high school courses online in their own time — in conjunction with their day school — can help them to foster a growth mindset. Here’s how:

  • Students can gain a better understanding of the subject matter. eLearning lets students work at their own pace, revisiting areas of the curriculum they need to strengthen and breezing past the modules in which they have a solid understanding.
  • Students can obtain better grades. Scoring a better mark is an easy way to boost confidence.
  • Students can strengthen their self-directed learning abilities. Learning online asynchronously will help students build independence, motivation and time management skills — qualities essential for life beyond high school.

Instead of admitting defeat and accepting a less-than-desirable grade, students who take a proactive approach will realize that short-term effort and sacrifice can mean profound gains later on.

Learn That Mistakes Aren’t a Bad Thing

Errors help us learn, grow, expand our knowledge base, and fully understand why something works as it does. For these reasons, it’s important that students understand that mistakes and errors aren’t bad things. After all, getting something right the first time we try it is rare! Instead, please encourage them to see slip-ups as a way to look at a challenge from a different perspective and a natural part of the learning process.

The Takeaway on the Growth Mindset in Education

Feeling comfortable asking for help, believing that every problem has a solution, and understanding that imperfections and mistakes aren’t indicators of failure can go a long way toward fostering a growth mindset in students. Doing so can set them up for a positive, proactive approach to any challenges they encounter in school and as adults.

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