Why are teachers encouraging their students to “get gritty”? – Read on for Top Tips on how can you instill a sense of grit at home.

August 06, 2015

finchley older girls with flower teacher memory stick

Explore Horizons is passionate about helping children to reach their full potential.

The new buzzword in education is grit. This concept of grit is that conscious persistence and resilience, over a long period of time, can be one of the key determinants of academic success. Teachers around the nation have begun to share what they are doing to help teach their students how to be “gritty”. If you are wondering what the buzz is all about, read below for more information on grit, and for some top tips for what you can be doing at home to help your child “get gritty!”

Believing that the struggle will pay off is a key component to fostering a resilient learner. Gritty children understand that their successes are not measured by the amount of answers they score correctly, but instead by the amount of times they persevere before conquering a difficult task. Teachers are using the growth mindset, the idea that intelligence can be developed with practice, to help children buy into the old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” If you can help children buy into the idea that their intelligence is not “fixed”, then you develop a learner that sees their own endless potential.

Top Tip: Talk to your children about their heroes, and explain to them that all great innovators faced failure on multiple occasions before achieving their goals! Explain what impact it would have on our world today if their heroes decided to give up, instead of picking themselves back up and trying again.

Shift your focus from answers to effort in order to positively reinforce the behavior of a gritty learner. Teachers and students are used to an environment where high grades mean high reward. In contrast, the grit perspective suggests that teachers should foster a positive behavior, positive feedback environment. For example, teachers are practicing this by changing the language that they use in the classroom. Instead of saying, “great job, you are so smart!” when a child receives a good grade, teachers might say, “great work, you must have put in lots of effort!” By rewarding the positive learning behaviors, children will begin to derive a sense of accomplishment from their determination to learn.

Top Tip: An easy way to practice this at home is to begin using behavior based rewards when your child exhibits perseverance in their homework! Try and use words like: effort, hard work, focus, and concentration!

Don’t give away the answer too soon. The instinct of a teacher or parent is to rush to the aid of a child when they arrive upon a problem that they do not know the answer to. Grit perspective however, suggests that children should practice being in the silent, uncomfortable position of not receiving that immediate help from their teacher or parent. By giving a student time to first think about the answer before rushing to their aid, you allow them to face the reality that in life, learning can be uncomfortable. In time, this will foster a perseverant learner.

Top Tip: Try this method at home when your children ask you homework questions. Before jumping in to give them the answer, ask them to take a couple minutes to sit in the silence and think through the problem for themselves. Remember, it’s important to help them get to the answer eventually, so make sure to walk them through it afterwards if they don’t figure it out!
For more information on practical ways to help your child “get gritty”, talk to a member of the Explore Horizons management team about the many ways we reward learning behaviors and build confidence in order to help children reach their full potential. https://www.explore-horizons.com/

By Faith Abbott, Assistant Director, Explore Horizons Plano

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