How can we support our students to learn from their mistakes and make learning their goal?

It is a privilege to work with our students here at Cedars as they grow and develop. We celebrate daily the opportunity as teachers to contribute to each student’s learning as part of their life journey.

Part of encouraging our students in their learning is helping them establish a pattern for life where they see ‘LEARNING’ as their ultimate goal. Whether it be learning to read, understanding maths concepts or learning a new sport or making friends.  All these experiences we encourage here at Cedars as they grow into resilient independent people.

As I reflect on my own learning, I realise that one essential skill I  developed was learning what to do when mistakes were made. We all make mistakes and our students are no exception. However, what is important is how we learn from them.

Carol Dweck in her book ‘Mindset: The New Psychology of Success’ says that pressure on learning is increased when children are constantly praised for their intelligence. This focus can affect the way our students view themselves when they face challenges. Dweck suggests that children may even avoid challenges when they make a mistake.

In fact Dweck found in her research that learning is enhanced when children make mistakes.

Dweck found that even when students are doing homework, developing friendships, or playing soccer, learning is enriched through mistakes. Carol Dweck says children learn important lessons and gain confidence from making mistakes. Knowing what to do after you have made a mistake is an essential part of developing emotional intelligence. Making mistakes is part of how kids are challenged to learn and to do things differently. It motivates them to try new approaches.

So how can we turn mistakes into learning for our students?

Importantly we can first of all let them know that they are accepted and loved unconditionally. Next we have opportunities to work with our students to help them explore and recognise their mistakes. We can ask them what they have learned from the experience, and what they could do next time. It is helpful to encourage and remind them that making mistakes means they are learning something new.

Modelling to our students how to react and respond when they make a mistake is an important step to support them in managing themselves when mistakes occur. For example when you have forgotten to buy their favourite food for lunch, you could tell them that next time you will make a list to help you remember.

Working out how to solve problems provides an opportunity for your child to learn responsibility and gain confidence as they discover that mistakes can be made right, or at least made better. Through this process children gain a positive self-image from knowing they can be trusted to find an adequate solution to a problem whether it is in or out of the classroom.

When children learn from their mistakes and are encouraged to find creative solutions, they develop problem-solving skills that last a lifetime.

‘Learning is the only game where you don’t run out of levels’