Teaching Children They Can Learn

Is IQ the only factor in a child’s learning? Is a child’s ability to learn something that is preset and fixed? For years, we were taught to accept that fact. Recently, though, a number of books have come out saying something different. If we reinforce our children’s ability to develop learning skills, we can help them develop skills they will use their entire life.

How does it work? It boils down to how we word praise that we give. Saying something like “you got it right” only concentrates on a result, and not what has to be done to get that result. The child cannot transfer a skill, because that child does not know what skill was used. Saying something like “you remembered that when you use the < and > signs, the open part faces the larger number, you worked hard to remember that and now you did” reinforces what skill was used and compliments the child for the effort they put into the learning.

This is an area I am still learning more about myself, as I was brought up more in the “you got 85%, good job” ¬†and “you only got 75%, you should do better than that” mindset than the “you got 80%, I bet if you took his home and worked on the ones that were hard, you could get an even higher mark tomorrow” one. With that in mind, I found this article to be quite informative. It describes Dr. Carol Dweck’s ¬†research on “Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset” :

http://www.offgridquest.com/health-nutrition/one-little-change-in-how-you-talk-to-you

The article mentions Dr. Carol Dweck. Here is a paper she wrote about how a student’s mindset can affect his/her learning of mathematics and science curriculum:

http://www.growthmindsetmaths.com/uploads/2/3/7/7/23776169/mindset_and_math_science_achievement_-_nov_2013.pdf

Her ideas can be used by adults with other adults,say in a work place, and with children.

 

Something I learned while working with young children….

Always use all skills as part of learning, but also use all skills as part of play.

So, that means that when you cover a theme, say Dinosaurs, you find a way to express it and explore it with the children using large motor, small motor, musical, artistic, prereading, premath, and prescience skills with as much media as you can. Then, during the free play, provide for physical, artistic, dramatic, reading, and art/craft activities that let the children use their skills to further explore theme related materials. If the children’s explorations take them away from the theme while they use the tools you provide to explore, that’s fine. They will still develop skills, and will feel less pressured, so will learn more when you are actively teaching them during the structured parts of the day because they are more relaxed