Having a “growth mindset” is a key element of KneoWorld’s pedagogy and one that underpins their programs. It explores the notion that in order to develop and grow, one needs to feel positive and confident. There is a clear connection between learning outcomes and emotional wellbeing. But is this something that comes naturally, or is it to be worked at?
Imagine being given a packet of flower seeds. The picture on the front looks incredible, with flourishing pink and yellow petals. How does the seed go from its basic form to a plant that is full of life? The seed must be planted for it to grow. It must be tended to, given water and sunlight. It must be protected from birds and bugs eager to make the seed its food. All the plant wants to do is grow and so with all the nurturing the seed is given, it thrives and becomes a healthy flower.
The work that is involved to make progress from one form to another is called growth, and the positive attitude required is the mindset. To make a change or learn from an experience, one must have a “growth mindset.”
Compare this now to a child. For them to grow into well-rounded individuals, we need to ensure that as educators we are providing them with the resources to help them blossom. Resilience and confidence are the tools that children need for a healthy growth mindset in the same way that water and sunlight provide the perfect conditions for the seed to grow.
Why are confidence and resilience important?
The way we react, process, and mature from setbacks and challenges determine how resilient we are. Anything that makes a child feel unsettled, anxious, or stressed can be difficult and so having strategies to cope and overcome that adversity strengthens their resilience. The more they practice, the more confident they feel in being able to ‘bounce back’ and carry on. Additionally, when a child feels safe and secure their self-esteem grows and subsequently their confidence to take risks and explore new things.
Listen to what they tell you. Even as adults we know how frustrating it can be if we feel we are not heard. When a child wants to talk, engage in conversation, and respond with interest and respect. This alone encourages self-worth and confidence.
So, what can educators and parents do to support children?
Building confidence and resilience is a process and while KneoWorld’s stories and activities incorporate strategies for dealing with both achievements and setbacks, you can also model actions and get children involved in everyday tasks.
Let them know you are there for them.
Build their confidence up by telling them you are proud of their achievements and know they are doing great. At the same time, let them know that even if things don’t work out the way they wanted, you are always there to support and guide them. (Although, this doesn’t mean doing it for them!)
Mistakes are okay. In fact, they’re the best way to learn. Encourage the child to reflect on what happened and encourage them to problem-solve by thinking about how they might do things differently next time.
Try, try, and try again.
Don’t be tempted to rescue the child from the situation, whether that’s tying their shoelaces or working on a hard math problem. If you intervene, it can make the child feel like they can’t do the task, when in fact, they just can’t do it yet. Instead, keep praising and encouraging their efforts to build their confidence.
Support independence by encouraging children to make their own choices. There is a learned mental process involved. They need to understand how to weigh up the pros and cons; decide what is best for the situation and the consequences their resolution might have, and without sufficient practice, their confidence to make decisions can be low. Subsequently, as they get older this could lead to poorer life choices, which can also impact their ability to be resilient.
Be a good role model by speaking about yourself in a positive way. It can be all too easy to look at our flaws and voice them, even if just in passing conversation. Celebrate the good in yourself and encourage the child to do the same to continue to build their own self-confidence.
Confidence and resilience building are essential life skills that rely on other adults to teach them. Developing strong connections with their peers, teachers, and families gives children the security they need to keep growing. KneoWorld’s programs take children through a learning process that continues to support, scaffold, and produce positive educational and personal outcomes.