All Hands on Deck: Mindset and Parental Engagement

This week I am proposing something different….have a read and let’s support Angela (and each other) in what the parental engagement part of growth mindset might look like!  Please try to reply with your ideas and thinking!!  What will result will benefit us all.
Angela says:

I have taught kindergarten for several years and this is the first year that I’ve come across a group of learners who say “I can’t do it” or “this is too hard’. Even just putting on snow pants or zipping up a jacket can set off a couple of my kids. My concern is where does this come from? We certainly aren’t advocating this mantra but I am worried about how often it is coming into the building, and how quickly some of kids give up on an activity. We are working hard this year to instill a growth mindset in our students but have to work on our parents and guardians. I’m not sure how to approach this and my staff and I are struggling to get the message out into the community in a positive way.

16 responses

  1. Christina Murphy | Reply

    “I can’t do it” is becoming a well know vocabulary for my students and my own children. As a mother I do not like to see my children struggle as I do not like to see my students struggle. As a parent, I notice that I jump up and want to help them right away and rarely give them the time to try it on their own or encourage them to try it on their own. I have the mindset if I just help them I will be able to do what I need to do much faster and not have to wait that few extra minutes to let them try on their own. Don’t get me wrong, I do let my children do things independently but I do jump too quickly and not encourage independence as much as I should. After doing some research and attending PD on mindset, I truly believe by changing our students and children’s mindset we will start to see them changing and doing more on their own.


  2. There is a great book called Drop the Worry Ball by a psychologist in Toronto. He speaks in the book to this very idea that as parents we want to shelter our children and help them as much as we can through life. He cautions, however, that kids need to struggle at times and accept the natural consequences that come with those decision. If children are never allowed to fail he suggestes they will not learn strategies to cope with the why and how to fix it next time. (growth mindset) I see that in our kindergarten students who insist they cannot do up there zippers. We as a staff ask them to try on their own first. Natural consequence it takes longer to get outside. 🙂


  3. Reminds me of the lessons that Barbara Coloroso taught us as well (remember when she visited SGDSB) – her book is called Kids Are Worth It. She spoke about self-regulation and natural consequences to the choices that children make. I recall her talking about children and outdoor clothing – she would use a frozen roast to show children what would happen if they did not dress properly for the outdoors. She reminded us that our role was to remind children of the consequences to their choices. I see this as a piece that supports our belief that children are capable and competent. It is the “guidance” piece…”with” children rather than “to” children – thinking rather than compliance.


    1. I heard Barbara speak quite a few years ago. She used an example of her own child calling from school frantic because she forgot her gym clothes. Instead of running out and bringing her the forgotten items, she responded “That’s a shame. What are you going to do about that?” Her reasoning was that if she ‘saved’ her, what would compel her to remember her gym clothes the next time.
      Wise woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Here is an article that speaks to us about how we, as parent, speak to our children!


  5. This year I have had the opportunity to work as a supply teacher in classrooms from kindergarten to grade 12 and have witnessed many students who appear to get frustrated and defeated very easily. “I can’t do it,” “I don’t get it,” and “this is too hard,” are phrases I have heard from students of all ages. I too have been wondering how we encourage a growth mindset in our children and students. In reading the posts, I was reminded about a great book I read by Richard Louv. The book titled, Last Child in the Woods is based on the research that indicates direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development. It speaks about how some children today are growing up under “virtual house arrest”. The natural bond between children and nature is being cut off due to distractions from electronics, fear in allowing children out of the house and even social restrictions which don’t allow children to test their own boundaries for fear that they will be hurt or injured. (Are we restricting students in our schools as well?) Perhaps these restrictions are limiting our children’s natural curiosity and wonder. There is a great deal of research that suggests more time spent outdoors or in natural environments improves cognitive functioning, creativity, physical mental and social health, and even reduces attention deficit disorders. I am not sure if this is the answer to improving growth mindset in children but I do think that it is our responsibility as educators to try to spark their natural curiosity and wonder. I hope that in doing this our students will be more engaged and involved in what they are learning.

    “School isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.” Richard Louv


  6. Is this the result of years of coddling our children? Learning from our mistakes is an essential practice of a growth mindset among our students. As parents are we too quick to intervene so as to protect our child from failure?
    I think we need to be working with the parents as much as with our students in developing a growth mindset. They have a powerful influence on their child’s disposition. Sharing the characteristics of a growth mindset at your next school council meeting might lead to some self reflection on the part of parents on how we might be preventing our children from reaching their full potential.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Leslie- Your Post reminds me about the wonderful read by Dayna Boyd (@zephoria), “It’s Complicated: The Connected Lives of Teens”.

    The article really changed my perspective about teens and technology. In essence Dana Boyd credits adults and their over-protectiveness in limiting the physical world of teens, thus driving teens into the online world to connect and discover themselves.
    Angela, I have been collecting a lot of growth mindset resources via Twitter. It is obviously a challenge for most educators. One idea that seems to be used, is the idea of phrases that show mindset and then what the growth mindset phrase would be. Teachers of primary students were also using visuals to replace these phrases.By modeling the language and behaviour we want I think we are on the right track in terms of demonstrating to our students the growth mindset we want for our students.
    Stacey W


  8. I am all about letting my boys fail. I think that there is so much to be said from the learning process and the reflection. Some other parents have suggested that I am too harsh, but I suppose everyone is entitled to an opinion =) All I know is that when I walk into a hockey dressing room and there are 12 kids crying and my child is going about his regular business I am happy with the choices I have made as a parent. Now don’t get me wrong, letting your child learn through life experiences is only effective if you have those rich conversations before and after certain events. For example, before the “big loss” we discussed losing as a team and winning as a team. We talked about doing your best and not being upset; we set goals and discussed what success would look like (no it isn’t always winning)! Developing a growth mindset helps children to take on challenges and try things that are out of their norm/comfort level because they know it is OK to try! I parent the same way I educate in a school. I feel that the feedback and the conversations before and after are just as important as the task at hand. Scaffolding really helps too. Modelling is also key, although not always easy!
    Dave -I am still a coddler for some things, I am not going to deny that, but it is something I am working on!


  9. Today I spoke with my students about what I had learned from Friday’s LLT meeting. Have a peek at some of their thoughts here:


  10. Although we work on the growth mindset at school in our role as educators, this whole mindset and resiliency thing sure comes through strong depending on the home. I always like the line when a parent comes in and says, “Could you make sure Johnny puts his snow pants on at recess; he didn’t want to put them on this morning?” No, the parent didn’t give the child a choice! “Do you want to put on your blue snow pants or your black ones, put your right foot in first or your left foot?” That’s where mindset starts. It’s not that Johnny is given a choice not to do, it is this or that. You’re going to solve this problem, not that “I can’t do it”, It’s just a matter that at that child’s home not doing is not an option. I had a young JK student wanted to go home with his mom when his mom dropped at left. That wasn’t an option he got. I asked him, “Do you want me to put your shoes on or do you want to put them on?” He wanted me to do it, end of discussion; leaving wasn’t an option. Try this option or try another; can’t do isn’t an option.


  11. Reading the posts, reminded me of an article I read a few years ago titled: Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids…and How to Correct them, it states that the 3 mistakes we make is that 1) We risk too Little, 2) We Rescue too Quickly, and 3) We Rave too Easily. It’s a great article written by Tim Elmore (who also has great podcasts to listen to through ‘Growing Leaders’), and I realize now that lots of what his is referencing is about that development of growth mindset. You can find the article at:


  12. My students have been exploring growth & fixed mindset. Have a look at these two posts:
    1) Growth mindset:
    2) Can A Fixed Mindset Be Changed?:
    It’s interesting to read/hear their thoughts.
    **Feel free to comment on the blog posts — since I am sharing their ideas & opinions, I openly share any responses with them.


  13. Great article Kathleen – one worth sharing with parents.


  14. We have experienced the true benefits of practicing Growth Mindset in our Fdk program. We have been using the “power of yet” every time a student says ” I can’t do it”! We have a little man who gives up even before he tries BUT this week after he finished his work he stated (very proudly)”I DID’NT GIVE UP!” Those four words were so powerful:). We were so proud of him and can’t wait to see where this Growth Mindset brings him.


  15. Hooray!! What a wonderful example of explicitly using Growth Mindset language with our youngest learners – who are truly capable and competent! Thank you for sharing this huge success story Lana! Please keep sharing!


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