What Is Growth Mindset and How Do We Teach It at the Learning Lab?

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How having a growth mindset helps children with learning differences achieve milestones

Key takeaways:

  • A growth mindset involves having a positive outlook regarding challenges and setbacks.
  • It centers on self-perception and the belief that it can affect outcomes.
  • People with a growth mindset believe they can improve their skills and talents over time.
  • This intelligent concept frees our students to take on challenges, learn, and reach their goals.

We continue our series on The Learning Lab’s core values with a focus on “Growth Mindset.” A growth mindset is a powerful concept that helps all people learn and achieve things they didn’t think they could. Children with learning differences, especially, often struggle to meet educational milestones achieved by their peers. 

Not achieving academic milestones or developing an understanding of lessons can lead to severe self-esteem issues and doubts about their intelligence and even their ability to learn. A growth mindset can help avoid these pitfalls because it is all about changing perceptions to help children learn new skills, achieve success in school, and put them on the road to professional success as an adult.

In this article, we discuss what a growth mindset is, how it’s different from a fixed mindset, and how to develop it. Your student might be crying that he or she “Just can’t do it!” but with a growth mindset, that statement can change to “I just can’t do it YET!” We explain how this intelligent concept helps students change their attitudes and reach their goals. 

Growth Mindset: What it means and why it matters

The concept of a growth mindset has its roots in psychology. The term first appeared in a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. It centers on self-perception and holds that a person’s mindset can affect outcomes in his or her personal or professional life. 

A growth mindset involves having a positive outlook regarding challenges and setbacks. The Harvard Business Review describes it this way: “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.”

Mindset matters a lot because many people aren’t even aware of how their self-perception shapes their reality. They don’t understand how it can impact their lives in both positive and negative ways. For example, someone with a fixed mindset is more likely to engage in negative self-talk and believe it.

Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

What is a fixed mindset? People with this quality tend to believe that abilities like intelligence and talent are “fixed.” In other words, they won’t change or develop much over time. They also tend to believe that innate talent is the main driver of success. 

A fixed mindset can contribute to negative self-perceptions. Students with dyslexia or ADHD might have a fixed mindset that says they’re “stupid” or that they will never learn a certain lesson or catch up to peers. They believe nothing can change, which leads them to avoid challenges or give up entirely. A child that has given up on school might begin to act out or appear lazy, when in fact, they’re frustrated and even ashamed of their unique learning challenges. 

A fixed mindset is in sharp contrast to a growth mindset. Compared to a fixed mindset, people who have a growth mindset believe their abilities and talents can be developed and improved through dedication and hard work. They also believe that effort (not innate ability, which can change) equals success and that the process of making mistakes and learning from them is the whole goal. This process is how children end up learning new skills and strengthening their abilities. 

How The Learning Lab utilizes and teaches a growth mindset

The Learning Lab believes that having a growth mindset allows us to help children who don’t typically learn in conventional ways. Students who have struggled for a long time can become very discouraged. They might begin to believe they really are stupid. They say “it’s too hard” or “I can’t do it.”

The growth mindset we teach them turns their thinking around. They begin to believe in themselves and say things like:

  • I can’t do it YET
  • This is hard for me RIGHT NOW
  • I can do hard things
  • Challenges help me grow!

We believe having a growth mindset frees our students to take on challenges with new attitudes. It helps them reach their learning and academic goals, whatever they may be. 

Here’s an acronym of growth mindset based on posters we have hanging at our center.

Growth Mindset = 

  • Making mistakes means I’m learning
  • Nothing is Impossible
  • Never give up
  • I am Determined to do this
  • Stay focused on the goal
  • It might not be Easy, but it is worth it
  • Whether I Think I can, or think I can’t, I’m right

A good way of seeing the difference in mindsets is to think of elite athletes. Some athletes are simply born with great talent. Others might not have the same talent but are dedicated to improving and working hard to develop their skills over time. Setbacks and failures are seen as challenges to overcome, rather than the end of the world. Athletes with this mindset usually achieve great success in their sport. They might even go on to eclipse their naturally talented peers because those individuals don’t always develop good work ethics and they don’t know how to handle setbacks when they do come. 

The Learning Lab programs

The Learning Lab offers a range of programs to students with learning differences. These programs are incorporated with a growth mindset and include one on one and small group instruction as well as supplemental academic software. We create learning profiles for each child to determine the right interventions and programs. 

Our Homework Lab ensures that your child’s homework gets done. Students who struggle with reading, writing, and math can easily become stressed because they don’t understand. This leads to late or totally unattempted homework and a stressful situation for everyone. In the lab, we reteach challenging material, help with executive function skills like organization and focus, and teach test prep and study skills. 

Oftentimes, we may incorporate scientifically-based reading, writing, and math software, which are designed specifically for struggling learners. These programs focus on common issues facing children with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. These programs help to build critical cognitive skills, as well as academic skills such as phonics, reading comprehension, and math. 

Our I3 Lab offers a customized experience for each child. We craft individualized plans using a time-tested, evidence-based curriculum. In the I3 Lab, we teach kids the way they learn. We tailor a plan to fit your child’s strengths, struggles, and learning style, whether he/she is a visual, auditory, or tactile learner.

Getting help for your child

Having a growth mindset is all about the notion that intelligence is not fixed. It enforces the notion that effort is what actually equals success, not a so-called innate ability. This concept builds self-esteem, confidence, and over time your child will learn lessons and be able to apply them. 

If your child struggles academically because of learning differences such as dyslexia or ADHD, it’s important to get help as early as possible. The Learning Lab in Ft. Lauderdale and Davie offers support for children and teens who need help in reading, writing, and math. Our goal is to prepare your child for a lifetime of learning while helping him/her close academic gaps. 

Contact us today to get started!