You know what I see when I look at this photo of a classroom from the 1960s? I see a growth mindset classroom! All the tools are there: painting, sensory, blocks, puzzles, dramatic play, art, and smiling faces. As a teacher for nearly 3 decades I know that children learn best through natural curiosity, discovery, a rich environment, through trial and error, through cooperating with others, through failing and succeeding, -- through play.
An integrated, playful classroom is a powerful tool for nurturing growth mindset in young children because they can learn how to apply their strengths in one area to the places in which their mindset is more fixed. For example, a child who is having trouble counting may be an exceptionally strong painter. In an classroom where this child is allowed to explore multiple sensorial experiences, she can learn that all things take time and effort, and just as she patiently mixes colors until she finds the right shade of blue, she can learn to count a set of objects until she is sure the count is correct.
A classroom that educates the whole child can also encourage a student to learn skills of persistence and endurance that he might not otherwise have found in himself. A child for whom reading comes easily may have a difficult time building a block tower that doesn't fall over. Without the chance to experience the activity that challenges him, he may never learn that failure is okay and something to learn and grow from.
Teachers and other adults should provide opportunity, environment, and strategies that fosters a child's natural path of learning. They should provide opportunities for discovery and opportunities to learn new skills and develop an understanding that mistakes and failure are the natural result of learning experiences, and that it takes time and repeated trials to find success.
A growth mindset is a powerful outlook that our students need to apply to all areas of learning, but as teachers of young students we know that they already have this mindset within them. Have we ever heard a student say that he can't paint? Or build a block tower? Or play make believe in the dramatic play area? We need to reclaim these powerful experiences in which our students are already experiencing a growth mindset and use them to our advantage to teach them about the power of yet and help them to learn the content with the same joy that they experience on the playground or during free play.
This is where an integrated curriculum comes in, by combining different areas of content knowledge into powerful, contextual experiences, we can help children hold onto their positive outlooks and learn the power of yet. Not sure what that looks like? Click here for some ideas.
Would you like to learn more about Growth Mindset in the classroom? Check out this interview with Heather Hundley and Annie Brock, the author's of The Growth Mindset Coach and be sure to continue to scroll down to find our brand new song, "I Can't Do It... Yet" This song and poster are yours to use in your classroom or homeschool setting. Please keep our copyright in mind as you share this catchy song with your students, friends and colleagues.
The song "I Can't Do It... Yet" is available for you to download to use in your classroom to inspire and teach your students about growth mindset. Please make sure that you credit "Kindergarten Kiosk" or "Lyndsey Jarman" as the author of the song when you use or share it and link back to this website.