Posted in Uncategorized

When Growth Mindset = Utter Bollocks

Yes, I’ve gone all sweary. I’m not apologising.

Let’s get something out of the way. I’m a huge fan of having a growth mindset. It’s amazing. (I don’t actually have one, but I’m working on it.)

What it is: resilience. It’s picking yourself up, dusting yourself down, looking at what just happened and learning from it. It’s analysing what you’ve done to shape what you try next. It’s appreciating what you’ve achieved without comparing yourself to others. It’s building on that achievement, using that knowledge to go the next step.

What it isn’t: believing that you can do anything you set your mind to.

It doesn’t matter how hard I try, how focused and single-minded I am, I am never going to be an astronaut. I’m 50, I have menopausal brain-fog, I don’t have the qualifications and I get horribly travel sick unless I’m driving.

Yet I see our kids being told that if they only work harder, they can be THE BEST. They can be ANYTHING they WANT to be.

That ain’t necessarily so, to quote the song. And so we have lots of malleable minds that can react to this in a variety of ways:

  • Some become high achievers but fall apart the first time they don’t get top marks in a test.
  • Some don’t try at all because the focus is all about comparing their achievements to others.
  • Some blame themselves and develop rather nasty self-esteem issues if they don’t come top however hard they try.

What can we do to encourage our kids to try their best, without emphasising achievement?

  • Praise the effort. Think about saying “I’m proud of you for reading your book tonight/starting your homework/cleaning your plate/tidying your room.” Even when they’ve come top in a test – “I’m proud of you for working hard.”
  • Avoid talking about next time – so don’t say “Oh well, next time you’ll do better/read more/do your homework in one go/keep your room tidy.” Keep the focus on the effort that has happened THIS TIME.
  • Lead by example (this is the one I find difficult!) Instead of seeing (and saying) how much you haven’t done – “I’ve still got all this work/washing/decorating/gardening/cleaning to do, ” say “I’m really proud of myself – I’ve got this, this and this done today!”
  • Encourage their interests – whether it’s coding, like The Teen, drawing (The Tween), sports, music etc, they probably have far more of a growth mindset around things they love to do. Praise them for all the practice they do and their effort in JUST THE SAME WAY as you praise the effort for the things they might not be as keen on – homework, for example!
  • Aiming high is fantastic – but keeping lots of options open is even better. They might not end up being a Premier League footballer, but they might use their skills in teaching others their favourite sport.
  • Show them that failure isn’t the end – I burnt a batch of cookies this week and resisted getting cross – I just made sure I put the timer on for the next batch!

What do you think? I’d love to know! Pop a comment below, or you can always find me on Facebook and the ‘Gram!

Keep growing, lovelies!

Posted in Key Stage 2 Support

Are you a Superstar Student Supporter?

Are you a parent or carer of a child in, or going in to Year 3 to 6? Are you a terrific teaching assistant (TA stands for Totally Awesome, by the way!) working in Key Stage 2?

Then you’re a Superstar Student Supporter!

All our kids deserve to get the best education support possible to help them achieve their potential throughout their school career. And that’s not easy in the age of austerity, government cuts, local authority shortfalls, larger class sizes, poorly supported SEN integration, more rigorous curriculums and over-worked teachers.

I’ve created the Supporting Superstar Students group over on Facebook to give everyone who lives with, loves, supports or works with Key Stage 2 children a safe place to access unique resources, get news and views, connect with other like-minded people and learn more about what our kids are being taught in Key Stage 2.

Come on over and join us!

Posted in SATs, Uncategorized, Year 6

Aargghh! SATs Stress!

SATs week is nearly upon us – Key Stage 2 SATs (that’s Year 6) will begin on Monday 13th May with the SPaG tests (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar), with the reading test on Tuesday 14th May, Maths Papers 1 and 2 (Arithmetic and Reasoning 1) on Wednesday 15th May and the final Maths Reasoning paper on Thursday 16th May.  Key Stage 1 SATs (that’s Year 2) will also take place in May, but the exact week will be set by individual schools.  The phonics check test for Key Stage 1 will be on or after Monday 10th June.

This can be a highly emotionally charged time for our kids.  Even if you have a very calm child (The Teen wasn’t worried about the tests themselves as he liked working on his own in silence!) the anxiety other children may feel can also influence them (I once had to go in to school to calm down The Teen who was hyperventilating and shaking because so many of his friends and peers were upset and worried).

So how can we help them? Here’s a few ways!


Teaching our kids positive affirmations can help their self-esteem.  Keeping the affirmations short and snappy and getting them to repeat them after you say them, or write them down on a post it note or diary/journal may encourage resilience.  I’m sharing some affirmations every day over on Instagram this May!


We can listen without judgment, or without trying to solve the problem for them – being able to vocalise their worries can be incredibly valuable to a child.  It is really important to try to JUST listen – I know we all want to jump in with our views on what needs to be done to help because we just want to make it better but knowing that we will listen without interrupting can really help our kids to open up!


Give as much praise and encouragement as you can – about anything you can! 

“Thanks for emptying your lunchbox, that’s a big help!”

“I’m incredibly proud of you for …”

“I love being your mum/dad/family member…”

“I missed you while you were at school/while I was at work today…”


Sleep is SOOOO important!  Having a lack of sleep not only contributes towards low mood and anxiety, it’s not going to help them concentrate during these last days of revision or during the exams!  Make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, and that they are getting some time away from the ever-present tablets and phones they are so often glued to.  Getting to bed a bit earlier but having time to read is a fantastic way to help them relax. 

Keeping it calm

Yes, they’ve left their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor again.  Give them a bit of slack – choose your battles wisely over the next couple of weeks and try not to react if they are more irritable than normal.

Roll with the differences

They might be more clingy than normal, or they might isolate themselves more than normal.  Check in with them regularly – a quick “Do you need anything?” will reassure them you’re there for them.

Have something to look forward to

You might want to do a countdown to a summer holiday, or get them involved in planning a day trip or meal out for after the exams.


Some children may find that writing a diary or a journal can help with anxiety.  Being able to write down their worries or fears can be a way to vent their emotions safely. 

Outside interests and friends

If your child wants to keep up with their outside interests or their friends outside of school, this is a great way to take their minds off their current worries.

Eat healthily

Yes, I know that getting vitamins into some children is like trying to get a camel through the eye of a needle (how The Tween has managed to survive considering his idea of five a day is the number of chicken nuggets he wants to eat is beyond me) but eating well really helps with feeling good and using their brain!  Although they might not feel like eating before their exams, encourage them to eat breakfast! 

Try some relaxation techniques

Laughter, stretching, deep breathing, exercising, listening to music and meditating are all activities that increase the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in our brains.  You might like to try some of these together (The Teen has just read this over my shoulder and said, “Fat chance, mother!” but perhaps your child is less contrary than mine is!)I

Here’s hoping we all get through this SATs season as unscathed as possible!

Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash