How do we help children grow?

We are constantly growing and changing throughout our lives. Everyday, we do this emotionally, physically and socially. That’s the joy of being human. Let’s celebrate growth, and in light of next week’s Children’s Mental Health Week theme, we are doing just that. This year’s theme is about ‘Growing Together’ – enjoy reading and trying out our top tips for promoting healthy mental growth.

  1. Self-reflection 

Being self-reflective is a huge part of growth and learning. Often we reach a goal and then bounce onto the next task or challenge. However, being able to look back at your learning honestly and in full, allows you to focus on the successes. Additionally, it means you can think about where to put more energy or attention next time. 

Daily self-reflection requires time and space should be made, despite busy schedules. It could be structured, with teachers or parents asking a specific question. How about: What could you change next time? When could you use the same strategy again? Alternatively, children need time and freedom to reflect on their own learning in the way they want. Aside from reflection on the work that has been done, more importantly, a focus on the process and strategies used will lead to greater and more meaningful learning in the future. 

  1. Growth Mindset 

Carol Dweck coined the term Growth Mindset. She compared a Fixed Mindset, where the learner is continuously doubtful of their skills stating that they “can’t do it” or “will never be good at it”, with a Growth Mindset. A person with a growth mindset understands that they have the capacity to learn. They will enjoy taking on challenges and will see the potential for success. We will all have moments of fixed mindset but reminding ourselves about being open to challenges can boost our drive. People with a growth mindset are more likely to achieve success and will confidently learn new things. 

  1. Habits of Mind 

Habits of Mind, identified by Costa and Kallick, are traits seen in highly successful people and problem solvers. They listed 16 intelligent learning behaviours, including persistence, thinking flexibly and taking responsible risks. Indeed, adopting Habits of Mind allow us to grow and change our thinking in subtle and drastic ways. We don’t use them all at once but dip in and out of each of them as needed. Understanding which to use in a situation means children are better prepared to tackle similar problems and deal with setbacks. It gets them thinking about their process in learning, allowing them to grow. 

  1. Deliberate Practice 

The key elements of Deliberate Practice is a structured, well-defined approach with specific goals for self-improvement. At the core, it is all about intentionally practising skills. When growing and changing we all need baby steps to follow. Once the goal is identified, we break down big goals into sizeable and achievable chunks; lots of small challenges that will give us a quick win. Additionally, it invites you to get the support of an experienced expert to give feedback. It is a highly effective approach to growth for anybody learning something new. 

To be able to grow, it is important to continue going over and reviewing and retrieving knowledge that is already understood. We space out our practice over time. Deliberate Practice is not exclusively for academic subjects, but should be used for all learning throughout our lives.  All of these strategies: growth mindset, Habits of Mind and self-reflection, need to be constantly and deliberately practised to continue growing. 

  1. Make mistakes!! 

Arguably the most important part of growth is to MAKE MISTAKES!! We can see this as one of the steps in deliberate practice – the drive to actively seek mistakes. In this way, we will learn from those mistakes and grow in our thinking. The culture around making mistakes should be positive. Mistakes should be seen as a good thing. Parents and teachers need to sit and talk with the child about their mistakes to ensure they become a learning opportunity. As they talk, focus on what went well and what was not so good. Let the child articulate how they would change their approach and grow in the future due to the mistakes made. 

Growth is not an individual task! Remember that it cannot be done completely by yourself and results from collaboration and community. Everyone needs to be honest with themselves. By having support from a group of trusted people you are more likely to survive and thrive. Growth is a constant process and there is always growing to be done. 

Join us during February half-term for our Expert Learner workshop (Monday 14th until Friday 18th February). Our workshops teach your child the foundations and visual tools necessary for revolutionising how they learn. More information