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How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Homeschooling Your Kids

In a recent Learning Liftoff article, Lori Beverage, senior manager of national community and family support for K12, explored four reasons homeschool moms worry, and ways for them to handle the stress and worries. One of the main concerns of homeschool moms is that they are not successful or qualified home educators. Beverage’s advice is to learn with your child and become “the sharer of fun skills, new stories, and adventures in learning.” This advice relates to an important education concept; the growth mindset. It’s a mindset that all homeschool parents should promote and develop in themselves and their children.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

David Hochheiser defines the growth mindset as the belief “that all people, especially within the context of education, are learners with room for improvement.” He references Carol Dweck’s Mindset, which promotes the idea of individuals striving to grow beyond what they’ve accomplished today. In fact, Dweck contends that people who are taught a growth mindset are more motivated and productive in business, education, and sports. Overall, people with a growth mindset believe it is within their nature and control to improve, change, grow, and progress with patience and hard work.

Edudemic describes the growth mindset as one that “thrives on challenge and sees failure as an opportunity for growth. It creates a passion for learning instead of a hunger for approval.” Dr. Dweck proved this theory. Praise for intelligence inhibits learning because students believe that their capacity to learn is fixed. Conversely, students praised for their learning processes and growth performed better and reported their achievements more honestly.

In short, students with a fixed mindset care more about looking smart than about learning, while students with a growth mindset internalize feedback that builds upon their knowledge and then work to learn and grow.

How to Develop a Growth Mindset for Homeschooling

Hochheiser recommends five growth mindset practices from Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker’s book Professional Learning Communities at Work:

  • Be humble enough to accept the fact there are things about ourselves and our practices we can improve.
  • Become part of a team that values constructive critique instead of criticism.
  • Treat setbacks as formative struggles within the learning process, rather than as summative failures.
  • Realize that timelines are restrictive in reaching high standards, and use foundational philosophies such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to map systems to support everyone’s growth.
  • Create flexible grouping and avoid trapping anyone in one course level or a particular type of work.

Edudemic also recommends a few ways to develop a growth mindset:

  • Develop a support community and collaborate to maintain focus, speed up learning, and sustain interest.
  • Focus on tasks and combat fixed thinking with reminders that failure is necessary for growth, and that the process is most important.
  • Give up perfectionism and aim for doing better each time.
  • Stop thinking about the outcome and enjoy learning and growing.

Final Thoughts

The best way to develop a growth mindset is to appreciate the learning process and recognize student success and effort rather than intelligence and current ability. Once you and your students have cultivated a growth mindset, you will strive for accomplishments, allow yourselves to be curious, and explore beyond your old perceived limitations. If you’re still struggling with homeschooling, check out the ideas and resources at K12.com.


Image via Flickr by Leonard John Matthews)

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