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A Growth Mindset for KS2 Students is one of the foundations of great SATs results. It emboldens them to challenge themselves and gives them the right attitude in their lives to tasks and growth.
What is a Growth Mindset?
A ‘Growth Mindset’ is a way of thinking, learning and taking on challenges.
A student with a Growth Mindset pushes themselves outside of their comfort zone and shows resilience and perseverance.
Studies show that it is people with a growth mindset are more successful and are happier. Of course, this is exactly what we want for all our children.
A Growth Mindset is the difference between a student giving up on a task because they’re good at the task and a struggle that means an improvement.
But a Growth Mindset isn’t just about effort.
Carol Dweck (the Growth Mindset queen) writes:
“In the Fixed Mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The Growth Mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful,” (Dweck, 2015).
We believe a Growth Mindset for KS2 students is essential.
What is a Fixed Mindset?
A “Fixed Mindset” is a way of thinking, learning and taking on challenges.
It assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are predetermined and that we can’t change in any meaningful way.
Below are statements that hopefully illustrate the difference between Growth & Fixed Mindsets.
Growth Mindset Statements
Mistakes help me learn.
This will take time and effort.
I’ll keep going even when it’s hard.
What am I missing?
If I try, I will improve.
Failure is an opportunity to grow.
I can learn to do anything.
Challenges help me grow.
My effort and attitude determine my success.
I am inspired by the success of others.
I like to try new things.
I can do this.
I’ll try again.
Ooops. I made a mistake. I can fix that.
I want to learn.
I’ll keep trying.
Fixed Mindset Statements
I fail because of my abilities.
Mistakes mean that I failed.
This is too hard.
My first idea didn’t work so I’m giving up.
I can’t make this any better.
I will never figure this out.
I’m either good or bad at something.
My success is pre-determined.
I don’t want to be challenged.
I stick to what I know and what I am good at.
I give up when I am frustrated.
I can’t do this.
I don’t feel like trying.
I hate this because I’m no good at this.
I give up!
I’m either good at something or bad at something.
I feel threatened by other students being good at something.
Growth Mindsets & Positive Mindsets.
A Positive Mindset is different to a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset.
Positive Mindsets and Growth Mindsets can be easily confused by students.
A Positive Mindset is an attitude that focuses on the bright side of life and expects positive results. It involves making the most of even bad situations, trying to see the best in others, and viewing yourself and your abilities in a positive light.
So if a student is struggling with a worksheet, they can take:
- A Growth Mindset: I can do this if I keep trying or try a different approach.
- A Positive Mindset: It’s okay that I can’t do this. Perhaps I’ll be able to do this tomorrow.
- A Fixed Mindset: I can’t do this because I’m no good at worksheets.
It’s important and commonly overlooked that these are different (sometimes overlapping) mindsets.
How Does a Growth Mindset Help KS2 Students?
We all know the KS2 SATs can be the focus of year 6 in school. They dominate Year 6 teachers’ minds and the results can have lasting impact on a school.
A lot of schools like to focus on the exams, practising and working hard to obtain the best results possible.
We believe the best results possible are only attainable if students are applying a Growth Mindset.
A Growth Mindset for KS2 students is one of the foundations to maximise the SATs results for a school.
When your KS2 students are faced with a subject with which they are not comfortable, a Growth Mindset gives them the attitude to try and improve, to see it as a challenge, and to know that if they keep trying it will soon become less scary.
Growth Mindset in Lessons.
There are some actions in lessons which, when a teacher implements in lessons day to day, really make a Growth Mindset second nature to students. A Growth Mindset should run through all lessons, not just PSHE/RSE:
- It’s OK to make mistakes – we learn from them! Even teachers make mistakes and can admit to their mistakes. Your mistakes can be the foundation of great lessons.
- We don’t give up! We try a bit hard or try another approach.
- We learn from each other – students can be the best teachers.
- We challenge ourselves – which means we may make mistakes, but it means we will improve with each attempt.
- We don’t limit ourselves by avoiding challenges.
- We remember that the brain is making new connections all the time – the only thing you need to know is that you can learn anything!
- When something goes wrong, even teachers adapt and learn from it. Explaining what has happened and how you are going to overcome the challenge, will be one of the bnest lessons your students can experience.
One of my colleagues did this every year and swore it helped in class.
She would produce a contract that children had the option of signing. The students had to agree to decide to agree to the terms themselves.
It was full of 5-6 commitments form the student to the teachers and their peers:
“Be kind to one another.”
“To do your best.”
“To see things as challenges to be overcome and not give up.”
If you can, link the contract to your classroom reward system.
Activities to Teach Growth Mindset to KS2 Students.
Brain vs Calculator
What’s the difference between our brains and a calculator? It’s a great discussion in class. Why not get students to write down the differences or discuss in groups.
Calculators can do calculations. They don’t get sums wrong. They don’t improve. They don’t get better or smarter.
Brains get things wrong. They do get better. They do get smarter. They get more able. Every time they learn to do something, they can try something even more difficult.
Working in pairs or groups, get children to write a list of times when failures lead to improvements. This could be in gymnastics, spelling, riding a bike, learning to swim…
What can I say to myself?
INSTEAD OF: This is too hard.
TRY: This may take some time and effort.
INSTEAD OF: I’m no good at this.
TRY: What am I missing?
INSTEAD OF: I give up.
TRY: How else could I try and do this?
INSTEAD OF: I got it wrong.
TRY: Mistakes help me get better.
INSTEAD OF: I’m giving up!
TRY: If I keep trying, I can do this!
Growth Mindset & the RSE and PSHE Curriculums.
A Growth Mindset is not part of the curriculum. It’s not mentioned in the new RSE statutory curriculum.
We think this is a huge shame. As such, we have embedded a Growth Mindset into our Guide to Life resource. We cover it in detail with students, reinforcing and re-meeting the principles regularly. To take a look at how we’ve embedded a Growth Mindset, just complete our form here.