Growth Mindset Tools for Children

We’ve written a lot about the Growth Mindset in Education and why it is important for helping children to do well in school. Part of helping children develop their growth mindsets is helping them understand how their brains work and what the growth mindset is all about. So here are some terrific resources that speak to children…

Growth Mindsets for Students from Class Dojo

In 1978, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck made a profound discovery: children who believed their intelligence could grow did better in school, and better in life. She called this basic belief about intelligence “mindset.”

In 2016, Carol Dweck’s lab at Stanford, PERTS, partnered with ClassDojo to bring this important lesson to classrooms everywhere through a five episode video series.

Chapter 1: A Secret about the Brain – in this video, Mojo learns a secret about the brain from his friend, Katie, that changes the way he thinks about learning.

Watch the rest of the videos:

  • Chapter 2: The Magic of Mistakes
  • Chapter 3: The Power of “Yet”
  • Chapter 4: The World of Neurons
  • Chapter 5: Mojo Puts it all Together

Brainology by Mindsetworks

The Brainology® program is a research-based, award-winning blended-learning program for students in grades 4-9 that improves motivation and achievement by teaching a growth mindset. Through interactive animations and classroom activities, students discover how the brain works and how it gets stronger and smarter through effort and learning, boosting their confidence in their potential, desire to learn, and willingness to work hard. They also learn and practice effective strategies to accelerate learning and growth.

G1 took this program some years back when we first found out about it. Find out more about Brainology by Mindsetworks:

Don’t forget to check out these free resources from Mindsetworks.

SciSkill Quest by Mindsetworks

SciSkill Quest is a standards-based game to develop students’ scientific skills, academic mindsets, and learning strategies in science that is currently a work-in-progress by Mindsetworks but it sure looks cool:

SciSkill Quest hasn’t officially been launched, but Mindsetworks has an open invitation for schools to pilot the program. I don’t think it should be too long before it becomes available to the public.

BrainVentures by Kizoom

Kizoom has designed a few apps to help children learn about the growth mindset and how their brains work. We’ve written about these previously so you can read about them here:

Apps: Brainventures

Mindsets on GoStrengths

GoStrengths is an online social and emotional learning program that helps children cultivate skills of self-awareness, resilience, problem-solving, optimism, character strengths, self-regulation, and goal-setting. These skills are taught over 10 modules – one of which is on mindsets. This is one of their videos on Mindsets:

Growth Mindset Books for Children

  • Making a Splash – Inspired by the popular mindset idea that hard work and effort can lead to success, Making A Splash helps children learn about fixed and growth mindsets through a story with examples.
  • Your Fantastic Elastic Brain – Did you know you can stretch and grow your own brain? Or that making mistakes is one of the best ways your brain learns? Just like how lifting weights helps your muscles get stronger, trying new things without giving up—like finding the courage to put your face in the water the first time you’re at a pool—strengthens your brain. Next time, your brain will remind you that you overcame that fear, and you will be braver!

Mindset Misconceptions

While we’re helping children learn more about the growth mindset, it is important that we are clear on what it is and how to promote it because according to Carol Dweck, parents and teachers often misuse growth mindset research. It is important to be clear that the growth mindset is not just about trying hard. When talking about the growth mindset, we often refer to the brain like a muscle that can get stronger by training it in the proper way. However, if we’re trying to lift a weight that is too heavy for us, simply trying harder isn’t going work. It is more likely to cause injury.

The muscle metaphor doesn’t imply that effort is the only thing that matters. If you’re trying to lift something that’s too heavy for you, you might simply not be strong enough to lift it, yet. Trying harder will result in strained muscles and burst blood vessels rather than increased strength. – PERTS

Therefore, we need to keep these things in mind when we encourage children:

  • Don’t praise effort alone because effort is only half the equation. Effort without progress or learning is not what the growth mindset is about.
  • It’s not just about telling kids to keep trying harder. They also need the right strategies and skills to help them get through the problem.
  • Just because you can repeat the mindset jargon does not mean you have a growth mindset. Developing a growth mindset is hard work – it doesn’t matter what you say with your words if your actions don’t support them.