Help Your Child Transition into a School Ready Mindset

A three-step guide on preparing your child’s mind for the new school year.
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Take time to reflect on the past school year to look forward and grow in the new school year.

The end of summer is usually marked with nervous excitement, lingering feelings of fleeting freedom, and eager anticipation of what’s to come. Transitioning from a flexible, care-free schedule back into the school routine doesn’t have to be such a grind. Using the following definitions and three easy steps, help guide your child into a school ready growth-oriented mindset.

Fixed Mindset. The belief that traits such as intelligence, behavior, and even attitude are fixed and beyond the control of an individual. Children who display a fixed mindset are frequently afraid of failure. They may appear to be lazy or indifferent about experiencing new things.

Growth Mindset. The belief that traits, such as intelligence, behavior and even attitude, can be developed through hard work, dedication, planning and the courage to learn from failure.

Children who express a growth mindset don’t get give up when something doesn’t go exactly as planned. They figure out what happened. Then they make a plan to avoid making the same mistake in the future. They have to be coached and encouraged to overcome an obstacle; instead of letting frustration or anger prevent them from learning what happened.

Now it should be stated that nobody on the planet exhibits a growth mindset about everything. We all operate from somewhere in the middle of the two mindsets. The goal is to identify an individual fixed belief system so that it can be grown and developed.

Step 1: Ask your child to make a list reflecting on all of the areas in which they are strong from the last school year. You might want to set a time limit for five minutes or less. Next, ask your child to list some areas in which they would like to improve for the new school year. It might also be helpful to make your own list to model this mindset exercise with your child. When time is up, ask your child to identify one thing from their list of areas upon which to improve.

Step 2: Ask your child what obstacles got in the way last year with their chosen list item. What can be done differently to avoid those same obstacles? This is an important step to model for your child as well. Share an experience of how you changed the way you think to improve your identified area of improvement from your list in Step 1.

Step 3: Make a specific plan to build better behaviors, develop intelligence through positive experiences, and improve attitude through self-reflection and analysis. Create a routine or a pathway with your child to help grow their mindset. Remember to build your own plan with your child to demonstrate the growth-minded process.

Transitioning long-held, fixed beliefs into a growth-oriented mindset is a process. It will take time; however, it is a process that will allow both you and your child to truly experience all of the richness and excitement that the new school year has to offer.

Chad Beveridge is a current doctoral student earning his PhD in curriculum and instruction from the UNC Charlotte. He has extensive experience with literacy strategies, cross-curricular approaches, and teaching executive functioning skills.