What Can Parents Do To Support A Growth Mindset At Home?
Students need to hear a consistent message between home and school. Since "parents have a primary influence on their children's attitudes towards school, learning and their future success" (Student Achievement Division, 2012, p. 4), informing parents about the enormous impact a growth mindset can have on their child’s academic success is a necessary next step for educators. Assisting parents to foster a growth mindset in their children at home is a critical step for building life-long successful learners.
As the child's first teacher, parents need to learn how to praise their child's efforts by focusing on the learning process and the effort applied to the task. Grades should not become the focus of their child's performance, but the feedback teachers provide families should be used to further develop skills at home.
Through regular communication parents and teachers can support students' accomplishments and build a growth mindset towards learning. The following posters will support parents in building a home environment that nurtures a growth mindset.
“Studies show that students perform better in school if their parents or guardians are involved in their education” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005, p. 5). Enhancing a parent’s awareness of how to explore math at home can enhance a parent’s ability to discuss math homework with their child and further develop their child’s mathematical ability (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005, p. 5). Parents who can understand ways to investigate the big ideas in math and inspire the generation of rich mathematical questions and deep thinking will be able to nurture a love of mathematics and will enhance their child’s ability to communicate mathematical thinking with clarity, skills that will support student learning in the classroom (Figure 18).
Offering parents information outlining the groundbreaking work done by Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler on the social-emotional development of today’s learners is a good starting point at the beginning of the school year, so parents can have a foundational understanding of the learning culture being developed in the classroom and can understand the framework of growth mindset.
Overview of Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset
Myths That Can Impact Learning Attitudes
Giving the Right Kind of Praise
Nurturing A Curious Math Mind
Nurture Positive Self Talk
Understanding How the Brain Works and the Importance of Making Mistakes
Parents must appreciate that new research indicates that all children have the innate ability to learn the highest level of math (Boaler, 2014a). It is through practice and repetition that neural pathways are strengthened. Mistakes need to be seen as a necessary part of the learning process.
Parents need to recognize that mistakes give their child clues about what they have done wrong, what they didn’t understand, what they need to still learn and next steps in their learning (Dweck, 2014, as cited in Boaler, 2014c).
When their child makes mistakes there is more neural activity than when no mistakes are made (Boaler, 2014b). More learning occurs because there are two synapses firing; one for the mistake and one for the correction, making more complex neural networks (Boaler, 2014b).
Learners with a growth mindset appreciate the importance of making mistakes and are not afraid to challenge themselves. They recognize that they may not understand a concept YET, but with effort and persistence they will someday soon (Dweck, 2014).
A child's beliefs, attitudes and feelings about math can have a huge impact on whether they embrace the challenges in a math classroom or fret about even entering a math classroom. Myths about math can taint a child’s attitudes and beliefs about their ability to be successful mathematicians.
Parent need to be made aware of the myths that can affect their child's self-efficacy. These fears and biases are the bricks that build the walls and barriers to a fixed mindset. Parents need to tear down these walls and build a staircase of skills and strategies that will lead their child across their personal learning landscape to a growth mindset.
It seems one of the key attributes of growth mindset is self-efficacy. “Self-efficacy is a powerful self-belief…[and] are judgments [about] our capabilities” (Bembenutty, 2007, p. 666). It is important that teachers and parents work together to help children believe they are capable of achieving their goals as this motivates them to take proactive steps to ensure that goal is obtained (Bembenutty, 2007, p. 666).
Research shows time and time again that high levels of mathematical self-efficacy leads to high academic achievements as these individuals are not only highly motivated to reach their goals but they also seek challenges to further their learning (Kitsantas, Cheema & Ware, 2011; Wilkins, 2014). If parents can help students develop positive self-talk their child's confidence will soar which will increase their enjoyment of mathematics, creating a positive feedback loop of success (Falco, Summers & Bauman, 2010).