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Ten Activities for Primary School Classrooms for a Fantastic Growth Mindset

Primary School Children with a Growth Mindset
How can a growth mindset improve the attitude and learning of primary-aged children at home and in the classroom? From celebrating mistakes to fostering peer support, we explore the benefits of applying these growth mindset activities.

In the nurturing grounds of primary school, fostering a growth mindset lays the foundation for lifelong learning and resilience. A growth mindset, as coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, encourages individuals to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and see effort as the path to mastery. In simple terms, a growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. People with a growth mindset see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than as obstacles to be avoided. By instilling this belief in pupils from a young age, primary educators can empower them to thrive academically and personally. To help teachers cultivate a growth mindset in their classrooms, here are ten meaningful primary activities:

Embrace the Power of “Yet” (Progress is Ongoing)
Task: Create a colourful display in the classroom titled “The Power of Yet”. Get children to write down age-appropriate goals they haven’t achieved yet, such as mastering their times tables or learning to tie shoelaces. Beneath each goal, have them list steps they can take to achieve it. Displaying these goals prominently serves as a visual reminder that progress is ongoing and setbacks are temporary.

Benefit: This activity encourages perseverance by reframing setbacks as opportunities for growth. By prominently displaying their goals and action plans, pupils are reminded that learning is a journey, and with persistence and effort, they can overcome obstacles and achieve their aspirations.

Mistake Mirrors (Celebrate Mistakes as Learning Opportunities)
Task: Hang mirrors around the classroom, each accompanied by a positive affirmation about learning from mistakes. For example, “Mistakes help us grow!” or “It’s okay not to know, but it’s not okay not to try.” Ask learners to look in the mirrors whenever they make a mistake and repeat the affirmations to themselves.

Benefit: This activity shifts the perception of failure from negative to positive, fostering resilience and a willingness to take risks. By normalising mistakes as part of the learning process, pupils become more resilient learners who are unafraid to try new things and learn from their experiences.

Word of the Week (Cultivate a Growth Mindset Vocabulary)
Task: Introduce a new growth mindset-related word each week, such as “perseverance”, “resilience”, or “effort”. Discuss the meaning of the word and how it applies to learning and everyday life. Ask children to use the word in sentences and share examples of when they demonstrated that mindset.

Benefit: This activity expands pupils’ understanding of growth mindset concepts and encourages them to use positive language to describe their learning experiences. By incorporating growth mindset vocabulary into their daily interactions, children develop a deeper appreciation for the value of effort and perseverance in achieving their goals.

Growth Mindset Buddies (Peer Support and Collaboration)
Task: Pair pupils up as growth mindset buddies and ask them to support each other in facing challenges and providing constructive feedback. Learners can work together on class projects, offer encouragement during difficult tasks, and celebrate each other’s successes.

Benefit: This activity promotes a sense of community and mutual encouragement, reinforcing the idea that learning is a collaborative journey. By working together and supporting one another, children develop strong bonds and a shared commitment to growth and improvement.

Goal-Setting Journals (Setting SMART Goals)
Task: Provide each child with a goal-setting journal where they can set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) goals related to their learning and personal development. Ask them to write down their goals, break them into smaller tasks, and track their progress over time.

Benefit: This activity teaches children how to set realistic and attainable goals, building a sense of ownership and agency over their learning. By regularly reviewing their goals and progress, learners develop self-regulation skills and a growth mindset attitude towards achieving success.

Growth Mindset Storytime (Building a Growth Mindset Through Storytelling)
Task: Read stories or watch videos about characters who demonstrate perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges. Discuss the characters’ attitudes towards setbacks and how they overcame obstacles through effort and determination.

Benefit: This activity inspires pupils by providing relatable role models and illustrating the power of a growth mindset in overcoming obstacles. By engaging with stories of resilience and perseverance, learners learn valuable lessons about the importance of effort and resilience in achieving their goals.

Growth Mindset Reflections (Reflection and Growth)
Task: Dedicate time for learners to reflect on their learning experiences, both individually and as a group. Ask them to identify their strengths, areas for improvement and strategies for growth. Provide prompts such as “What did you learn today?” and “What challenges did you overcome?”

Benefit: This activity cultivates self-awareness and metacognitive skills, empowering pupils to take ownership of their learning journey. By reflecting on their experiences and setting goals for improvement, learners develop a growth mindset attitude towards continuous learning and personal development.

Growth Mindset Assessments (Promoting a Growth Mindset in Assessment)
Task: Provide feedback that focuses on effort, progress, and strategies used rather than solely on outcomes. Prompt children to reflect on their learning process, identify areas for improvement, and set goals for future growth.

Benefit: This activity shifts the focus from grades to learning, encouraging learners to view assessments as opportunities for growth and improvement. By providing feedback that acknowledges their efforts and progress, pupils develop a growth mindset attitude towards challenges and setbacks.

Growth Mindset Role Models (Diverse Perspectives)
Task: Invite guest speakers or showcase individuals from diverse backgrounds who have achieved success through perseverance and a growth mindset. Provide opportunities for pupils to learn about their stories and ask questions about their experiences.

Benefit: This activity broadens children’s horizons and demonstrates that success comes in many forms, regardless of background or circumstances. By learning about the journeys of others, learners gain inspiration and motivation to pursue their own goals with passion and perseverance.

Growth Mindset Awards (A Culture of Continuous Improvement)
Task: Recognise and celebrate pupils who demonstrate a growth mindset in their attitude, effort, and resilience. Award certificates or prizes to children who have shown exceptional growth and determination in facing challenges and overcoming obstacles.

Benefit: This activity reinforces positive behaviour and attitudes, creating a supportive learning environment where everyone is encouraged to strive for personal growth. By celebrating achievements and efforts, pupils feel valued and motivated to continue their journey towards success.

Incorporating these growth mindset activities into the primary school curriculum can empower learners to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and ultimately reach their full potential. By fostering a growth mindset, teachers not only equip children with essential academic skills but also instil in them the resilience and determination needed to navigate the complexities of life. As we cultivate a generation of lifelong learners who are unafraid to embrace challenges and pursue their goals with passion and perseverance, we pave the way for a brighter and more resilient future.

If you like this post, you may be interested in Exploring Shakespeare in Primary Education: Medium-Term Plans for Years 1 to 6.

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