There is a direct link between a student’s mindset and their level of academic achievement. This mindset is not fixed at birth. Parents and teachers can use positive reinforcement to empower students to do their best, and to develop a growth mindset. The goal is to teach our youth how to bounce back after a letdown—such as a low test score, or help them to grasp a concept they are struggling to comprehend. A growth mindset is a transferable skill students can apply to athletics, artistic achievements, and eventually their career. It is also a skill adults can further develop in their ongoing commitment to growth.

Below are some growth mindset “do’s” and “don’ts” students can turn to when faced with academic challenges.

Do …

Set Measurable Goals: Break large projects and daily/weekly homework assignments into bite-sized chunks. Set a goal for when each portion of work will be complete. This will provide a sense of accomplishment, and also develops essential time management skills.

Acknowledge Success: Reinforce your student’s positive academic progress by showing praise. Many parents and teachers forget to do this, because we expect our students to do well. But just a few seconds here and there that will go a long way.

Discuss The Value Of Hard Work: To improve academic performance or to grow on any level, students will have to commit to doing the work. Encourage students to identify and implement strategies that work for them.

Praise The Positive In Mistakes: Every mistake or set back is a valuable learning opportunity. Instead of allowing students to beat themselves up over a mistake, help them identify the lesson learned.

Share Our Learning Opportunities: As adults, we have all experienced mistakes that have turned out to be valuable learning experiences. Share those examples with students, and explain how they ultimately helped you grow.


Don’t …

Set Grade-Specific Goals: The challenge with performance-related goals is that they are often “everyone in the same boat” type of goal. Each student learns and develops differently, so instead of expecting “straight As,” focus on improving upon the individual student’s performance.

Provide Unwarranted Praise: If you are aware that a student is not fully applying themselves, or is guessing on their homework or tests—do not condone their behavior with praise.

Define A Student By Their Achievements: Academic performance is an achievement, but we must not define students only by their unique strengths or weakness—instead by their character and personality.

Reinforce Self-Criticism: Even when we are disappointed in a student’s performance, we must not support or agree with their negative or self-destructive comments or behavior.

Forget To Recommit To Your Growth Mindset: Students follow our lead. If you are trying to develop their growth mindset, but you are not open to growth—they will notice your inconsistency.