“If you believe it, you can achieve it,” and “fake it ‘til you make it,” are just two of the common phrases used when trying to elevate someone’s thinking. But how much weight is really given to these positive, “go getter” attitudes when it comes to measuring success.
Research conducted by Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that there may be some truth to them. Their study of 240 children aged between seven and 10 years old discovered that there are neurocognitive mechanisms linking positive attitude with academic achievement. Essentially, the area of the brain responsible for memory, the hippocampus, saw improved functionality when stimulated by positive thoughts and activities.
“We saw that if you have a strong interest and self-perceived ability in math, it results in enhanced memory and more efficient engagement of the brain’s problem-solving capabilities.” Senior author, Vinod Menon.
Similarly, there have been various studies on how children’s wellbeing can be influenced by positive psychology interventions. Seligman (2002), for example, defines wellbeing as “the positive evaluation that people make of their lives” and that it includes “positive emotion, engagement satisfaction, and meaning.” It considers socio-economic status, experiences negative emotions, such as trauma and loss, as well as their sense of purpose and experiences of positive emotions. Where healthy environments that support the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children are nurtured, the outcomes for children are greater.
Schuler (2009) believes that being optimistic leads to positive thinking in the same way that Snyder et al (2000) understands that children with higher levels of “hope” are internally more positive and have lower levels of depression.
Just like “growth mindset,” a positive mindset holds space for an optimistic attitude. It requires us to look forwards, be reflective and make changes according to our experiences. This concept is often taught in schools by using evidence-based social and emotional learning to develop children’s growth mindset through the power of positive thinking.
How can educators cultivate a positive mindset?
It may not be an easy process and can be very dependent on the children you are working with.. As educators we have the responsibility to equip, and subsequently empower, our children and families with the tools and strategies needed to ensure positive outcomes.
KneoWorld recognises the importance of this by incorporating positive psychology into the curriculum. They use a blended learning approach to deliver high quality, equity driven content that empowers students’ drive to learn. Their story-based learning provides a very-much needed platform to enrich and support children’s social-emotional learning, while also accelerating reading, math and STEM.
Want to see how KneoWorld can enhance your students’ learning experience? Explore our interactive online program with a personalized demo!
- A positive mindset can be formulated with the following core elements.
- By role modelling positive behaviour and language, teachers can help foster resilience and optimism. Children can see exactly what it means to be a positive thinker and emulate that for themselves.
- When students continually receive praise and acknowledgement, it supports their ability to see themselves in that light. That raises their self-esteem, feeding them positive thoughts that ultimately result in positive outcomes.
- Supporting children to set SMART goals can help them to understand the direction they are going in and how far/close they are to achieving them. The power of positive thinking in this scenario may help them get there faster.
- Practicing gratitude and mindfulness is a great way to support a positive mindset. Appreciating what they have and taking regular “brain breaks” can help reset and reevaluate if there are setbacks.
- Celebrating successes is an important and critical aspect of maintaining a positive mindset. It acknowledges the wins, no matter how small, that release those happy endorphins and support their self-esteem.
In conclusion, while we have the evidence to support how a positive mindset impacts children’s achievements, it is important to also consider the external factors that may influence them. At the same time, as educators, we must harbour the strategies to provide a growing, nurturing learning environment.
“You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.” Paulo Coelho, Brazilian Lyricist and Author of The Alchemist.
Discover the possibilities of our online education program tailored for your school! Connect with our team today to explore how we can enhance your students’ learning experience. Request a personalized demo now.