Students hear all sorts of messages and voices throughout their lives: from teachers, peers, parents, siblings, other family members, the local community, the media and so on. Each of these voices holds different weight in the child’s mind.
For most children, parental voices are particularly powerful.
If we are trying to promote growth mindsets, either in a single classroom or across a whole school, we want students to hear similar messages at home and at school. The best way to achieve this is to educate parents about growth mindset research and practice. Here are three ways to do it:
- Information Evenings. Set up an after-school event for parents, introducing them to growth mindsets. This gives them access to the ideas and evidence underpinning the approach. It also solves a problem for parents, who might not have enough time to read up on strategies for supporting their children’s learning. It sees you or the school acting as a middleman. You do the analytical work so as to provide parents with a synthesis of key growth mindset ideas.
- Crib Sheets. Create crib sheets for parents containing a summary of Carol Dweck’s growth mindset research, alongside an explanation of what you or the school is doing to turn this into practical reality. In addition, provide parents with examples of the things they can do to echo the growth mindset messages at home.
- Language Booklets. Language is one of the key areas on which we can focus if we want to promote growth mindsets. We can help parents to do this by providing them with growth mindset language booklets. These should contain examples of how to rephrase trait-based praise, growth mindset keywords to use and discuss, questions to ask, and common fixed mindset phrases to avoid (eg we don’t have the maths gene in this family).
Each of these examples is a starting point for promoting growth mindsets to parents. You can use them separately, or in conjunction with one another. A further option is to plan them so they follow on from one another over a period of time. For example, you might hold an information evening in September, send out crib sheets in October, follow up with language booklets in November, before revisiting the ideas at a parents’ evening in January.