Kristi Wilson, Discovery Therapies Program Coordinator
Summer is almost over and preparations for the new school year are in full swing! Teachers are thinking about setting up their classrooms and looking forward to seeing new faces. Parents are shopping for school clothes and supplies. Kids…they aren’t thinking! They just want to enjoy the last few days of “freedom”! Struggling learners? Well, many of them are dreading that first day of school, as if it is a jail sentence, while still others are looking forward to seeing their friends and ignoring the fact that they are going to have to work on activities that can be overwhelming for them.
Do you find it way too easy to carry your past experiences into your future? For example, I still say to this day that I am bad at math and I am forty-something years old! I get stuck in that classroom from long ago where I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to solve that Algebra problem. My mind is fixed on what was. I perceived, and still perceive at times, that my knowledge in the area of math will never change – even though it already has! My perception of my abilities from the past impacts my performance and motivation in the present.
“People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. They outperform those with a fixed mindset, even when they have a lower IQ, because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.”
I did some research and found that one of the key factors for progress in any area is having a “growth mindset”. This is especially important for students who struggle. With so many advances in brain research, it is now known that growth and knowledge is not pre-set or fixed. In other words, the brain can change and growth is possible by altering one’s perception of how one performs at school, at work or in any other problem area. To me that means, if I think I can still learn, then I can and I can get better at that Algebra! And so can anyone else who is willing to work at it. So, I know that I need to apply this to my own life. But how?
I read further and discovered some advice I can apply. First, I need to identify the areas of my life where I feel stuck. I need to “buy-in” to the idea that change and growth is possible by taking small steps to try new strategies and ways of tackling new things.
Second, I need to be aware of any situations or subjects that trigger a negative reaction. Ha, I guess hiding in the closet when one of my children asks for help with a math problem would be a good indicator for me! But seriously, any type of anxiety would be a clue.
Additionally, my reading advised me to switch my “fixed mindset thoughts” to “growth mindset thoughts” even if I have to rehearse it over and over to myself. I might say, “I can figure out how to do that. I can try a new way to learn how.” After all, that is how educational therapists are trained to think and help their students with overcoming their learning difficulties.
August is here and I am excited about putting these new ideas into practice. What about you? Growth is possible. Are you willing to try something new and change how you think about how well you perform in your problem areas? How can you help the struggling learners in your life grow?
Having a good support system is helpful, too. Can you find someone to challenge or hold you accountable? And while all parents need to be part of a team for their kids, struggling learners especially need to know they have someone who can help when they don’t know how to advocate for themselves or overcome their difficulties. Discovery Therapies can be an important part of that team for your child. Feel free to contact us to discuss how.
I feel inspired - maybe I will sign up for that Trigonometry course at Midlands Tech!
Travis Bradberry. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved July 29, 2016, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/travisbrad734869.html)
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