Part of creating an atmosphere of learning is teaching our kids that being a beginner at something is not a bad thing, but rather a good thing.
We’ve all been there right? Watching our kids slump over a math page with dull eyes and a complete lack of interest. We’ve seen them experience a sense of fear about starting a new subject, instrument, sport or simply refuse to do something that looks too hard.
Being a beginner can feel uncomfortable because the possibilities of embarrassment and failure are present. But what if we could help to shift their mindset to one that allows them to work through these situations with more ease?
What if we could teach them that not knowing everything, struggling a little, and being a beginner is not only good thing but can also be fun?
What is a beginner’s mindset?
A beginner mindset is letting go of a know-it-all attitude and adopting an attitude of curiosity, interest, and eagerness to learn something new. It’s an attentiveness to the process of learning rather than simply finishing a task.
With a beginner mindset, it’s ok to be new and ask questions. In fact, it’s fun. A beginner’s mind is simply driven to by their pure desire to know more.
Benefits of having a beginners mindset
- It takes the pressure off. When you allow yourself to be a beginner you no longer carry the burden of knowing it all. No one knows it all. You admit to yourself and others that you don’t know, and its ok.
- You get a greater sense of wonder. Instead of conquering knowledge, your eyes are open to so many new possibilities and areas of knowledge left to explore.
- Life becomes fun. Cultivating a curious and inquisitive mind makes life exciting. What new things will you learn today?
- You become grateful. With a beginner mindset, you can truly begin to appreciate the wealth of knowledge that people can bring to your life. The skills they have learned, and the depth of their care in sharing it with you.
- Creativity begins to flow. When you are ok with imperfection, your willingness to try will skyrocket. You understand that practice is part of the process of growth and it will propel you forward.
How to encourage a beginner mindset in your kids
1. Let go of being an expert teacher.
If you are an expert on everything and your kids never see you learning, and growing, and asking questions for yourself, how will they know to do the same? Curiosity is contagious.
With that being said, let your kids see you get excited and interested about learning new things. Model being a beginner yourself, ask questions, let them see you fail and try again, and witness the joy you have in experiencing new things.
2. Eliminate hurry and pressure to learn
Once learning feels like an obligation, the enchantment of learning is lost. Sure, keep your kids on task, create structure, but give them time and space to process information, ask questions, and get curious.
If a subject begins to get emotionally overcharged, go back to the drawing board. Give your kids some space, try a new approach, add in some fun and games, or even hire a tutor to relight the fire.
Keep in mind, if kids have a why to what they are learning OR a natural interest for more, they will be more inclined to be self-motivated to continue.
3. Make learning fun
Kids love surprises and random experiments. Spark some curiosity by making their learning fun and memorable.
Wanting to learning about mammals? Have your kids generate questions then take a trip to the zoo! Watch funny mammal videos, play games, make crafts, have conversations, leave time for imaginative play, and watch as your kid’s curiosity and knowledge on mammals grows.
4. Encourage questions
To begin with, we can validate our kid’s curiosity by peppering our responses to their questions with things like, “Wow, that was a good question.” OR “I’m so glad you asked that.” By acknowledging and praising their curiosity we are inspiring them to continue.
Secondly, we should model good question-asking. If we are demonstrating how to ask questions and what types get us the knowledge that we need, our kids are sure to pick up on that and begin to hone their question-asking skills as well.
5. Teach your kids to be open to possibilities
Part of having a beginner mindset is being ok with not knowing how it all works at first but keeping an open mind to the possibilities. Work on teaching your kids ways to be flexible in their thinking.
6. Be ok with mistakes and imperfection
I tell my kids all the time that mistakes are part of learning. Instead of giving up we simply need to be willing to try again. If something flopped, start asking questions and talking about what you can do different next time.
Working through mistakes is hard for everyone. We have found that regularly cooking, gardening, and doing projects together are great exercises that help practice the art of problem solving and dealing with our imperfections.
8. Think big
Get your kids dreaming big! Let their imagination run away with them! Let them explore the what-ifs. What if I became president? What if I planted this seed? What if I wrote a book? What if I build the tallest lego tower in the world? What if…
9. Give kids inspiring examples of people with beginner mindsets
One of the best ways to get your kids in the right mindset for learning is to introduce them to some of the great learners, creators, inventors, and open thinkers throughout history. Here are a few beginner mindset quotes and books to get your started:
Beginner mindset quotes:
- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it” -Pablo Picasso
- “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t” -Thomas Edison
- “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” -Amelia Earhart
- “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” Albert Einstein
(Amazon affiliate links included in this list)
Books for beginner mindset:
- Florence Nightingale (Picture book biography) by David Adler
- Snowflake Bentley (Picture book) by Jacqueline Martin
- Who Was Thomas Alva Edison? by Margaret Frith
- Who Was Neil Armstrong? by Roberta Edwards
- Helen Keller (Picture book biography) by David Adler
In what ways do you encourage a beginner mindset in your kids?
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.