Growth Mindset & Social Emotional Learning

Posted on Sep 28, 2022

Unlocking potential with the growth mindset and social & emotional learning

Continued learning is key to unlocking our potential, building self-confidence, and exploring the world around us. But how we learn can have a significant impact on our well-being and performance.

Enter: the growth mindset and social and emotional learning framework.

These two concepts can empower young learners to become the best versions of themselves. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a growth mindset?

The human brain is an incredible thing capable of changing, adapting, innovating, creating, and learning. It is not rigid like concrete. Instead, it is malleable like clay, and our intelligence is capable of growth.

When we recognize our own brain’s ability to grow, we have what’s called a growth mindset. And when students are supported and encouraged to adopt a growth mindset, magic happens. By magic, we mean improved learning outcomes and enhanced well-being. When students believe they can get smarter, they know they will be rewarded for their effort. In turn, they dedicate more time to their studies, leading to better performance.

Research has confirmed this theory. One study found that students with a growth mindset experienced significantly less mental health issues and “stress due to life events” than students with a fixed mindset. Another suggests that students with a growth mindset can improve their learning experience and develop intrinsic motivation. A third paper concluded that individuals with growth mindsets enjoy increased levels of well-being and earn higher grades in school.

You can’t argue with the evidence.

What is social and emotional learning?

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is centered on recognizing and understanding emotions, caring for others, and navigating challenging situations. It’s about developing resilience and positive personal attributes that lead to healthy minds, bodies, and relationships.

SEL has five focus areas:

  • Decision-making skills – the ability to make responsible decisions about behavior and social encounters
  • Relationship skills – the ability to establish and maintain positive relationships through clear communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and cooperation
  • Self-awareness – the ability to understand emotions, values, and thoughts and acknowledge how these impact behavior
  • Self-management – the ability to regulate emotions and behavior, such as controlling impulses and setting goals
  • Social awareness – the ability to empathize with all people, respect diversity, and adhere to ethical norms

Growth mindsets, SEL, and young learners

It’s not just what young learners are taught that matters. It’s how they are taught that can change their lives today, tomorrow, and well into the future. And while the concept of a growth mindset or the ideas and skills within the SEL framework might seem like no-brainers to adults, kids are still developing their view of themselves and the world. The sooner educators can promote a healthy and optimistic mindset founded on social and self-awareness, the better.

How might growth mindsets and SEL work in practice? Say there’s a child you are teaching who scores poorly on a math test. They become angry and embarrassed and decide to give up on math. They believe that math is not their thing, so they stop paying attention to it and continue to underperform.

This reaction stems from a fixed mindset. By helping children cultivate a growth mindset underpinned by an understanding of their own emotions, they can recover from setbacks and make improvements. With a growth mindset, the child who scored poorly on their math test acknowledges that, with a little time and effort, they can improve their skills. In other words, they know they are not inherently ‘bad’ at math. Instead, they are capable of growth.

Watch our videos

We explore the power of growth mindsets and the SEL framework in developing young learners in our fun, hilarious, and kid-friendly videos. Check them out here.



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