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Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset theory is becoming very popular in our school. But what is Growth Mindset theory, what are its benefits and how can you encourage your child to develop a growth mindset?

What is Mindset?

A mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations.

Fixed Mindset

Some people have a ‘fixed’ mindset, which leads them to believe that intelligence and abilities are fixed, and that a person cannot improve upon their ability to do something. People with a fixed mindset will give up on challenging tasks easily or avoid activities they have found difficult in the past. They tend to focus heavily on the results of a task, rather than the effort required to achieve it.

People with a ‘fixed mindset’ believe the brain is static, leading them to think talent and giftedness are permanent, unchanging personal attributes that automatically bring later success.

Growth Mindset

However, some people have a ‘growth mindset’, which leads them to believe that intelligence and ability can be developed through persistence, effort, learning from our mistakes and trying different strategies. People with a growth mindset will bounce back quickly from failures and setbacks and are more likely to explore how they can get better at doing something. They do not define themselves by the outcomes of tasks but by the effort put in.

People with a growth mindset believe that every time you work hard, stretch yourself and learn something new your brain forms new connections and over time you actually become smarter. The brain is like a muscle that gets stronger and works better the more it is exercised.

Why develop a Growth Mindset?

Having a growth mindset is likely to lead to greater emotional well-being. People with a fixed mindset tend to feel that they fail at things because they are ‘just not good enough’. They feel they have no control over their abilities and are helpless in the face of difficulties, and this can lead to self-esteem issues.

Reserach suggests that children who understand that the brain can get smarter and have a growth mindset do better in school because they have an empowering perspective on learning. They focus on improvement and see effort as a way to build their abilities. They see failure as a natural part of the learning process. 

Growth Mindset at St Ann’s

Staff at St Ann’s are now using growth mindset theory in their everyday interactions with pupils. They encourage them to use setbacks and difficulties to motivate them, they celebrate effort rather than results and encourage pupils to accept challenges with a sense of achievement for trying. We have found that this makes pupils more motivated, engaged with their learning and likely to put in effort to seek improvement.

How do you develop a Growth Mindset?

  1. Set High Expectations

By expecting your child to try something more challenging, you are showing them that you believe they can do it.

     2. Encourage Resilience

Explain that when something is challenging, that is when their brains are making lots of new connections. Encourage them to see that struggling is a sign of learning, not of failure.

     3. Celebrate Mistakes

Explain that mistakes are good because they help you grow and show you what you need to know. There are lots of famous people and inventors who struggled with errors, setbacks and failures before achieving their goals.

     4. Criticise Supportively

Teach children to see criticism as useful feedback on how to improve.


     5. Question and praise children using growth mindset language

Instead of saying...

Try saying…

"You’re a natural!"

“You’re getting better because you’re working so hard!”

"You’re so clever!"

“You always try so hard and do your best.’”

"Is that too hard for you?"

“It’s challenging you so your brain must be growing.”

"Not everyone is good at that, just do your best."

"If it's hard, it's because you're learning something new."

"Why did you get these ones wrong?"

"Let's look at the ones you got wrong and find out why."


    6. Encourage children to use growth mindset language

Instead of saying...

Try saying...

"I’m not very good at this."

“What am I missing?”

"I’m really good at this."

"I'm working hard at this."

"I give up."

"What strategies have I learnt to help me with this?"

"This is too hard."

“This may take some time and effort.”

"I’ll never be as clever at him/her."

“I’m going to work out how he/she does is so I can do it too.”