growth mindset

7 easy ways to add some growth mindset to your child’s summer

Article and photos by April Hartmann, founder of My Little Growing Mindset, which is dedicated to nurturing a growth mindset in children ages 0-5, with books, printables and activities

Summer is a time for exploration and fun. It’s also a great time to promote a growth mindset. As parents, we can encourage our children to welcome new experiences and develop self confidence.

Growth mindset is an internal belief that intelligence and abilities can be improved through effort. Children with a growth mindset will enjoy learning and embrace challenges. They are more likely to think independently and bounce back from failure. The opposite is a fixed mindset, which is a belief that no effort will be enough to overcome the challenge.

Summer is a great time to focus on this, by setting goals and encouraging independent efforts. As you plan your summer activities, ask some questions:

  • What are some skills or hobbies you want to develop over the summer?
  • How can we challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone and try new things together?

Here are some fun and educational activities around the Pittsburgh area that your family can enjoy while also talking about growth mindset:

1. When attending a Pirates game and cheering for your favorite player, talk about his accomplishments:

  • How hard do you think he worked to become an MLB player?
  • Did he have failures along the way?
  • How do you think he feels when he strikes out?
  • How do you think he’ll be feeling the next time at bat?

2. Learn a new skill: Whether it’s trying a new sport, playing an instrument, planting a garden, or selling lemonade – setting a goal is a great way to develop persistence.

If the going gets tough, be sure to praise your child’s efforts to keep at it. Talk about failures as opportunities to learn and improve.

3. Visiting the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: With a variety of open-ended and hands-on activities, there are lots of opportunities to practice problem-solving and resilience.

If your child is tinkering with a project, resist the urge to step in and help. Instead, say things like:

  • You’re working really hard to make this special!
  • I’m excited to see what you will do next.
  • Was that too easy for you? How would you add some extra challenges?

4.  Summer Camps: There are many summer camps in Pittsburgh that focus on developing skills and encourage problem-solving. Check out this article for kids who love science and technology, or explore Kidsburgh’s 2023 big summer camp guide.

5.  If you take a trip to Kennywood, allow your child to take part in the planning.

Encourage her to use the map and lead you to the next ride. If he overcomes fear to try a new, exciting attraction, praise his choice to be brave.

6. Visit your local library: What does your child enjoy? Baking? Dinosaurs? Outer space? Inspire more curiosity with a variety of books on the subject.

This will nurture a lifelong love of learning. (Check out this story for details on the Carnegie Library’s summer reading program.) 

7.  Arts and crafts: Engage your child’s creativity, independence and problem-solving skills by offering open-ended projects.

This can be as simple as providing a giant cardboard box and some markers. Encourage your child to experiment with different ideas and praise their hard work.

More ideas like this are available at My Little Growing Mindset. This site promotes growth mindset for children ages 0-5, through activities, games, printables and books, including free downloads. By adding some growth mindset practices into our summer activities, we can help our children develop resilience, curiosity, and confidence.

These skills will serve them well as they continue to learn and grow in all areas of life. So, get out there and have fun exploring and learning together!