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Growth mindset in the primary grades

Getting your students to face a challenge with excitement and optimism can be difficult for any teacher. Doing things that are hard or new is generally something people of all ages avoid. But with our primary students, we are in a unique situation to train them and their thinking so they can thrive when faced with challenges and learning new things. Help your students go from “I can’t…” to “I can’t YET!” with these growth mindset activities and classroom decor that are perfect for the primary classroom.

Help your students develop a growth mindset in your classroom this year.

What’s a growth mindset?

Helping students learn about a growth mindset and how they can choose their mindset empowers them at school and in life

A growth mindset can be described as the ability to believe that you never stop learning, and that includes learning from mistakes and failures. Someone with a growth mindset also faces challenges with an open mind and optimism. They think of a challenge as an opportunity to learn something new and continue to work on those skills for the rest of their lives.

Sounds great right? The thing is, most students don’t naturally have a growth mindset when it comes to school or life. That’s where you come in. Helping your students develop a growth mindset can mean a more independent and collaborative classroom, building self confidence, and being open to trying new things. I don’t about you, but that sounds great to me! Those are the kinds of things I want my students to learn.

introducing growth mindset concepts

Students can learn about growth mindset by starting with things they can and cannot do

With our young learners, it can be hard to figure out how to start the process of teaching them about growth mindset. I have found that focusing on what they can and cannot do is a great starting place. I love to start by asking students to share some things they know how to do. The students are always eager to share and we get to learn new things about each other.

Then I ask them to share something they don’t know how to do but they wish they did. This is always interesting too. I close this part of the discussion by sharing something I don’t know how to do that I want to learn. Then I end with an important word . . . YET!

I go on to explain how I am taking steps to learn and although I don’t know it yet, I am on the path of learning and trying new things. This process of sharing is always my go-to way to introduce the growth mindset concept.

students are introduced to the power of YET with this activity sheet

We then build on our discussion time with a fun activity that kicks off our growth mindset learning. The students love completing the My Growth Mindset poster. They take the things they shared or new ideas and create a poster showing what they can do and something they can’t do well… YET.

It’s such an empowering exercise for students. It’s a great way to move from discussion to application.

These growth mindset posters are then displayed in the classroom. Not only do I love what they represent, but they are a great reminder for students of their personal goals.

Focus on “yet”

Helping students to flip their thinking from “I can’t…” to “I can’t…YET” is a major game-changer in any classroom and in life. Just like everything else your students will be learning this year, they will have to practice thinking with a growth mindset over and over. Be intentional with encouraging students to use the word “yet” when they are struggling and frustrated. Pretty soon it will become second nature for them and you!

Use the power of yet to flip your students thinking.

You will love how your students start using the word “yet” when encouraging their classmates too. Nothing makes my heart quite as big as hearing one of my students remind one of their friends to finish a discouraging sentence with yet.

I love to keep this YET poster on display in my classroom. In fact, there just might be more than one posted around the room. It’s such a good visual reminder to students and really helps them remember the power of YET. This is one of the MOST powerful signs in my classroom!

I like to build growth mindset activities into our daily routine. Each day I call on a different student to share something new they are learning or trying. There’s only one rule – part of their sharing must include “I can’t…YET”. As the year goes on you can watch as the mindset shift happens. What starts as a sad “I can’t yet” with a look of defeat, soon becomes a confident and determined “I can’t YET” with a face of excitement. I see looks of determination and excitement instead of disappointment and frustration.

Want to add the power of YET to your classroom? Grab this FREE Yet Poster below and display it in your classroom it as a reminder for you and your students!

Be Intentional

Once you have introduced these concepts to students, it is important to keep coming back to them all year long. Changing how we think is no easy task. If we stop after one activity it won’t happen . . . and there’s no YET at the end of that. But with some planning and intentionality, we can be on the way to lasting mindset change.

If you haven’t been exposed to growth mindset concepts before it can be difficult. You will be changing your thinking right alongside your students. Make it easier by building in specific activities and times for growth mindset discussions. They don’t have to be long. Maybe it’s one student sharing a day or Growth Mindset Monday where you talk about the YET you’re each working on. Consistency is more important in making changes than quantity.

Put it on display

create a growth mindset bulletin board or display as a reminder to students

Keep growth mindset concepts in the front of your mind (and your students) by displaying them in the classroom. When you see it, you think about it, and over time it starts to take effect and stick.

After completing our My Growth Mindset worksheets (and, yes, I complete one too!) it’s time to hang them up for everyone to see. Put together a cute bulletin board display showcasing all of the amazing things your students can already do, and those that they can’t do yet.

Not only is this a great way to show off what you are learning but it’s also a constant visual reminder for students.

Whether it’s a bulletin board or some encouraging quotes you can put growth mindset concepts on display in your classroom. Grab everything you need for a great growth mindset activity and bulletin board in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. And . . . don’t forget to grab that free YET poster found above!

A growth mindset for a lifetime

Just like any skill we learn, developing a growth mindset takes practice. Once your students have learned how to harness the power of yet and are developing their growth mindsets, use any and every opportunity throughout the year to remind your students to tackle challenges with an open mind. This will carry over and be something they can take with them and use throughout the rest of their lives. As a teacher, there’s nothing better than knowing you have made a difference in the lives of your students.

Pin it!

Be sure to pin these growth mindset ideas to your favorite Pinterest teacher board so you can come back any time for more great ideas!

It's never too early to teach growth mindset concepts to kids. These tips, activities and resources will help you teach growth mindset in the primary classroom.

Danielle Murphy

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Miss Danielle Murphy