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#2 Growth Mindset: What is it and how does it apply to what we do?

This is a doozy but full of important information from start to finish! At Vandermont, everyone is learning and growing all the time – adults included. This is because we are fueled by element #2 of the learner-driven model: Growth Mindset.

Carol Dweck is an American psychologist, professor, and award-winning author.

She is well known for her theories on the mindset psychological trait, motivation, and success and made familiar with the terms “Growth and Fixed Mindsets.“

As your child embarks on their educational journey, it is essential to understand the concept of a growth mindset and its impact on their success in school.

A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work, dedication, and perseverance. This mindset helps students embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, and view mistakes as opportunities for learning.

This valuable information about Growth Mindset came from Wikipedia, and we thought it is important as a whole, so we wanted to share it in full, rather than summarize.

“Dweck has primary research interests in motivation,[8][9][10][11][12][13] personality, and development. Her key contribution to social psychology relates to implicit theories of intelligence, described in her 2006 book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. According to Dweck, individuals can be placed on a continuum according to their implicit views of where ability comes from. Some believe their success is based on innate ability; these are said to have a "fixed" theory of intelligence (fixed mindset. Others who believe their success is based on hard work, learning, training, and doggedness are said to have "growth" or an "increment" theory of intelligence (growth mindset). Individuals may not necessarily be aware of their own mindset, but their mindset can still be discerned based on their behavior. It is especially evident in their reaction to failure. Fixed-mindset individuals dread failure because it is a negative statement on their basic abilities, while growth-mindset individuals don’t mind or fear failure as much because they realize their performance can be improved and learning comes from failure. These two mindsets play an important role in all aspects of a person's life. Dweck argues that the growth mindset will allow a person to live a less stressful and more successful life.

This is important because

  1. individuals with a "growth" theory are more likely to continue working hard despite setbacks, and

  2. individuals' theories of intelligence may be affected by subtle environmental cues.

As explained by Dweck, a growth mindset is not just about effort. Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. “The growth mindset was intended to help close achievement gaps, not hide them. It is about telling the truth about a student’s current achievement and then, together, doing something about it, helping him or her become smarter.[17]

Dweck warns of the dangers of praising intelligence as it puts children in a fixed mindset, and they will not want to be challenged because they will not want to look stupid or make a mistake. She notes, “Praising children’s intelligence harms motivation, and it harms performance.

A shorter excerpt describes the impact of mindset:

Believing your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. … Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?… There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.

A growth mindset means you can learn anything with effort and time. Strategy, struggle, mistakes, resilience, and grit become common everyday experiences in relation to learning.

A growth mindset can be observed at Vandermont, mainly in the language used and how we praise. For example, rather than saying,You are so smart!” we say, “Wow! I can tell you worked really hard on that! Tell me about the strategies you used.

Dr. Dweck says: “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach them to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be a hostage of praise. Instead, they will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence. Praising children’s intelligence harms motivation, and it harms performance.

A fixed mindset can lead to a fear of failure and a lack of motivation to take on challenging tasks.


Encouraging a growth mindset in your child can profoundly impact their academic and personal success. Here are a few ways to foster a growth mindset at home:

  1. Praise effort over ability: When your child accomplishes something, focus on the effort they put into achieving it rather than solely on their innate ability. This helps them understand that hard work and perseverance are essential to success. EX: “I see you drew a red flower. Do you like drawing, and is red your favorite color?” Instead of “You are such a good drawer. I love your flower”- which primarily encourages them to draw to please or impress you or others instead of themselves. No one can give someone self-confidence. Self-confidence comes from impressing ourselves.

  2. Embrace mistakes: Encourage your child to view mistakes as opportunities for learning and growth rather than failures. This helps them develop resilience and persistence in the face of challenges. Avoid rescuing them from the challenge by removing them from the experience. Instead, please help support the skills to work through it to get to the other side and grow from it, or ask for help navigating through it with your child.

  3. Encourage a love of learning: Help your child see the joy in learning by exposing them to new experiences and encouraging their curiosity. This helps them develop a passion for learning and a desire to continue growing and improving.

  4. Model a growth mindset: As a parent, you can model a growth mindset by embracing challenges, taking risks, and persisting through obstacles. This helps your child see the value of a growth mindset and how it can lead to success in all areas of life.

In addition to fostering a growth mindset at home, supporting this mindset at school is essential. Our staff emphasizes effort and growth over innate ability and provides challenging opportunities for your child to grow and develop.

By embracing a growth mindset, your child can develop the skills and mindset necessary for success in school and life. With your support and encouragement, your child can achieve their full potential and become a lifelong learner!

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