Mental Health and Growth Mindset
“Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community,” (World Health Organization, 2014).
Good mental health and wellbeing is just as important as good physical health. Like physical health, mental health can range across a spectrum from healthy to unwell; it can fluctuate on a daily basis and change over time.
Children at St. Cross Catholic School have two lessons of PE each week. A wide range of sport-related after school clubs are run by teachers and external coaches, whilst many of our pupils take part in inter-school sporting competitions that include an extensive range of sports and activities. Our proficient year 6 leaders are excellent at organising activities and games during play times to encourage higher levels of physical activity and promote inclusion.
We include World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week in the school calendar and plan activities for the whole school.
Our role in school is to ensure that children are able to manage times of change and stress, and that they are supported to reach their potential or access help when they need it. Children are taught when to seek help, what help is available, and the likely outcome of seeking support so that they have the confidence and knowledge for themselves or others. We also have a role to ensure that children learn about what they can do to maintain positive mental health, what affects their mental health and how they can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As part of our targeted provision, we have and continue to access, outside help and support for pupils when required.
Levels of support
- Universal Support– To meet the needs of all our pupils through our overall ethos, school values and our wider curriculum. For instance, developing resilience for all.
- Additional support– For those who may have short-term needs and those who may have been made vulnerable by life experiences such as separation or bereavement - Nurture - Sunflower group.
- Targeted support– For pupils who need more differentiated support and resources or specific targeted interventions such referral to wider professionals.
Growth Mindset Vocabulary:
Independence, Challenge, Courage, Effort, Focus, Perseverance and Resilience.
At St Cross Catholic School, we teach our children that with a growth mindset, anything is possible. That means we encourage children to be resilient and to take on new challenges with enthusiasm. Rather than simply praising success we praise effort and persistence.
We believe the best thing to do is to teach children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning. For children who find work easy, we make sure they encounter more difficult tasks. Our children recognise that effort, persistence and good teaching are what help them improve.
The approach links with how we mark work and give feedback too. If children have fixed mindsets they find it hard to cope with failure: we teach our children to see mistakes and failure as positive. This makes for a very energetic and inclusive learning culture.
In 2000, Carol Dweck (a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University), was the first person to coin the terms ‘growth mindset’ and ‘fixed mindset’ after much research into motivation, personality and development. See below for Dweck’s definition of fixed and growth mindsets from a 2012 interview:
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
How can you help your children to have a growth-mindset at home?
- Avoid generalisations and the language of a “fixed mindset” - eg “I’m a terrible cook…” “I was never good at maths.” - Instead, praise and value your child’s effort, practice, self-correction and perseverance.
- Be curious about your child’s work through questioning - How did you figure that out? What’s another way you could have done that? How many times did you try before it turned out that way? What was challenging and how did you figure it out? What do you plan to do next time?
- Model having a growth-mindset at the table - At dinner, tell your children about a time when you didn’t know the answer to a recent question or you found something difficult. Who did you ask for help? How did you work through it?
At breakfast, ask questions about their opportunities for learning and growth in the coming day or week.
What do they want to learn, practice, and/or get better at today/this week?