Mindset - The Path to Mastery

Mindset - The Path to Mastery

Or, How to Help Kids Believe Their Way to Maths Success

Your mindset is the belief you hold about your own abilities, intelligence and potential. 

People with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities are set in stone and can’t be changed. They often believe that whatever abilities they have come naturally, and tend to give up when they find things difficult.

On the other hand, those who have a growth mindset believe that they always have the potential to learn and improve. They are more motivated to persevere with difficult tasks, to take risks and to learn from failure.  

Why is mindset important in math?

Recent research has shown that mindsets play a key role in math achievement, with fixed mindset pupils at a disadvantage to those who have a growth mindset.

For example, let's look at a learner who believes that their ability in math is something set in stone, or innate. They hit a stumbling block when a topic comes up that they find more difficult than the others. Even if they believed that they were 'good' at math up to this point, when they are faced with a struggle their confidence will take a real hit. This could lead to them coming to believe they are just 'not good' at math and giving up altogether. 

On the other hand, our learner who believes that their math ability is something that can be developed will be more inclined to welcome a challenging topic as an opportunity. Even though they might be finding the topic just as tough, they are likely to persevere as they believe that at least some element of success is dependent on the effort they put in.  

Encouraging a math growth mindset in your child

Parental influence is one of the keys to developing a positive mindset in math. Here are some tips from Komodo:

Praise carefully

At Komodo, we find that praising effort is more important than praising correct answers. Saying things like, 'You're so clever' isn't nearly as motivating or rewarding in the long term as 'You've worked really hard on this,' or 'That was a great strategy to use.'

Ditch your own preconceptions

You may have been told that you were no good at math, and when your child comes along with problems doing multiplication tables you might accept it as some sort of genetic inevitability. Definitely don't say things like 'I'm bad at math' - little ears hear all and this can lead them to believing the same about themselves. 

There is a myth that all high achievers are geniuses who effortlessly swoop to the top of the tree, however in reality the most successful people have worked hard, and even failed many times before achieving success. 

Change their dialogue

When your child says things like 'I can't do this,' or 'I don't understand this,' rephrase for them by saying, 'You can't do this YET', or 'You are still learning about this.'

Talk it through

When your child gets a wrong answer, talk about what method they used and ask, 'Is there another way you could have tackled that?'

Acknowledge the tough bits

Both academically and emotionally, your child will almost certainly face hurdles in math. If you can frame these struggles as learning opportunities, that's what they will be. Acknowledge the feelings and difficulties, and practice dealing with them in a positive way so that it's easier the next time they come up. 

Make mistakes

As parents, we are often tempted to cushion our children from frustration and failure by giving them a helping hand when they are struggling - but try not to. Failure is a brilliant opportunity to learn from mistakes, and children need to see that it is nothing to be afraid of. 

Mistakes are a crucial part of the learning process, but we find that children sometimes opt to leave a math problem blank than to give it a try and possibly get it wrong. 

Here are some reasons you can give kids to explain why making a mistake in math is actually a good thing:

  • Mistakes show you what doesn't work, which gives you something to build on to work out the correct answer. 

  • You learn more and understand things more thoroughly when you have to work to discover the solution for yourself. 

  • Trying and getting it wrong means at least you tried, and gave your brain a workout.

  • Initial mistakes make eventual success all the more rewarding. 

Komodo helps children develop a growth mindset and motivation to learn by rewarding the effort they put in. It is a fun and effective way to boost K-5 math skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use at home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning math (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into your busy family routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in math – without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at math – you can even try Komodo for free. 

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