"Even if a student gets everything on the official supply list, they’ll be ill-prepared to learn if their head isn’t in the right place at the beginning of the school year. Parents can help their children prepare to get the most out of their experience by using these last few weeks of the summer vacation to have some serious conversations about learning and coach them on their mental approach."
It’s officially one of the most exciting and optimistic times of the academic calendar: Back to School shopping season. Students love picking out colorful folders and finding the supplies that best fit their needs and personalities, but too often, we allow this retail exercise to define our back to school preparation. Getting ready for a year of learning isn’t just about physical materials -- there’s also a key mental component!
Even if a student gets everything on the official supply list, they’ll be ill-prepared to learn if their head isn’t in the right place at the beginning of the school year. Parents can help their children prepare to get the most out of their experience by using these last few weeks of the summer vacation to have some serious conversations about learning and coach them on their mental approach. Here are some key mindsets or ways of thinking that every successful student should have:
The Growth Mindset
The Growth Mindset is the belief that you can become better at things and increase your intelligence through practice and applying yourself. It means that “smart” and “accomplished” are things you can become, not things you are. This mindset is empowering to young learners because it invites them to view themselves as works in progress and celebrate victories and moments of growth rather than getting bogged down in frustration and negative thinking.
Growth-minded students are resilient, hungry to improve and eager to meet the next challenge!
Viewing Teachers as Professional Partners
Too often, we accept that there is a fundamentally adversarial relationship between students and teachers. As learners approach the new school year, parents should emphasize their teachers’ roles as key allies and coaches. Students who see their teachers as being on “their team” rather than the enemy will have a more positive view of school and forge strong partnerships that improve their learning experience.
Students who build professional partnerships with their teachers maximize their education by seeking and receiving high-quality feedback!
The Belief that Learning is Important
If students don’t see the role that school and learning play in their future, then how can anybody expect them to buy into education? One of the best ways parents can support their children (and their children’s teachers as well) is to help them understand the purpose of school in their life. Students who see a clear connection between success in school and success in the “real world” of adult life are the most likely to apply themselves and do well. For learners who have a negative view of school, it can be a useful exercise to have them imagine the future they’d like to have as an adult, then think about all the knowledge and skills they’ll need to gain before they get there - that immediately makes learning more purposeful.
Students who believe learning is important will be hungry for knowledge and persevere to make sure they get it!