Growth Mindset Through a Story
‘Giraffes Can’t Dance’ by Giles Andrede has long been a favourite book in our house. I made a story bag for it a couple of years ago, with a focus on music, and burned a CD with tracks from cha-cha, rock and roll, a tango and a Scottish reel to match the story. Recently, though, I’ve realised the potential of the story for exploring Growth Mindset with young children.
Growth mindset is very popular in the world of education (both for children and adults) at the moment, and has links with mindfulness, productivity and similar ideas. Carol Dweck is the academic who wrote ‘Mindset’, the book which brought the concept to the public sphere.
In Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, Gerald’s inability to be graceful leads to others mocking his attempts, and him feeling sad and dejected. A cricket tells Gerald:
“Sometimes when you’re different, you just need a different song.”
Gerald begins to listen to what inspires him, away from the negative influence of the other animals, and creates his own way of dancing brings him joy; ultimately impressing the other animals.
Ideas for implementing ‘growth mindset’ at home:
-The power of ‘Yet’: Add ‘yet’ to any negative statements; ‘I can’t ….’ Becomes ‘I can’t …. yet’.
This helps children to realise that most aims or goals are attainable with some patience and persistence. It gives tham a real alternative to giving up, if something is a real challenge.
-Teaching key words such as ‘persevere’ and using them in conversation frequently.
By sharing the terminology with young children, they can begin to recognise and use these words themselves. Even very young children are capable of learning long and seeingly complex words if they are repeatedly used in the right context- just look at how many four year olds are dinosaur experts with all of the names used accurately!
-Praising children for effort and courage to try above outcome.
Increasingly teachers are now doing this in schools; praising effort above attainment. This helps children as the focus becomes less on whether they are “good or bad” or “pass or fail” something and more onto where they are now and how they can improve. This applies to all children, regardless of what level they are currently working at.
-Embracing mistakes; they are how we learn and improve.
This is really hard and something us grown-ups struggle with even more than children do. But it is essential in developing that growth mindset, can-do attitude which will set them up for future success.
-Check out my board ‘Growth Mindset’ board for more ideas I’ve gathered from Pinterest.
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