For some children, confidence in themselves comes easily, and without much fuss. For others, self-confidence can take time to develop. In a school setting, confident children are more likely to speak up in classroom discussions and ask for help when its needed. So how can parents (and teachers) help less confident children develop this vital skill?
Encouraging a growth mindset is something that can simply be described as ‘the power of yet’. As an example, if a child says ‘I can’t read’ or ‘I can’t do algebra’, encourage them to add in the word yet – so, instead, the sentence becomes ‘I can’t read yet’ or ‘I can’t do algebra yet’. This shows that there is room to grow and learn.
It is also about focusing on the process, rather than finite ‘good’ or ‘bad’ outcome. Giving praise is important, but so is getting young people to think about the way they approach tasks. Here are a few suggestions of ‘growth mindset’ type questions for discussing homework, assessment results or other school tasks:
What was your strategy in planning for this test?
Can you explain this answer in a different way?
How could you find out more about this topic?
If you did this a different way, would the result be the same?
Ok, so that didn’t work out the way you hoped, what will you do differently next time?
Giving children space to get things wrong is surprisingly helpful. Parents naturally want to protect their children from failure, but trial and error is a key part of the way children learn. Not quite making it, when viewed through the power of yet, can spur them on to greater efforts, and giving it another go, perhaps with some tweaks to their original approach. This is also a great skill for adults too!
Resilience and perseverance are important life skills – learning not to give up after a set up back is very valuable. Confidence is not about getting it right all the time but being resilient enough to keep trying. Praise the effort and show them that you value them regardless of whether they won or lost. For example, saying something like ‘Well done on your race – I know you put lots of effort into your training. Let’s go say congratulations to Frankie on winning!’.
Trying new things can be scary – and avoiding fears makes those fears grow. Encourage children to explore new interests, without focusing on instant success, but on the act of having a go. Learning new skills makes children feel capable and confident that they can tackle whatever comes their way. Plus, by providing them with an opportunity to develop a passion for something, it helps develop their own sense of self, which is another tool in building confidence.
Helena College firmly believes in encouraging a growth mindset, and the power of yet. From our Learning Framework, which combines project-based learning, big ideas with explicit teaching, through to the wide range of activities and electives, students are given confidence to find their voice, and shine in their own way.
Helena College is inviting expressions of interest for Junior School enrolments. Limited opportunities are available for Year 4 and 5 in 2023. Applications for other entry points are welcomed.
For more information, or to book a tour, please visit Helena College online at www.helena.wa.edu.au