Is There a Secret to Raising Smart Kids?

A recent article by Carol S. Dweck suggests there may be! Her article, “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” outlines the difference between two mind-sets, namely, a fixed mind-set and a growth mind-set. On the basis of extensive research and studies, she argues that a growth mind-set is the secret to being smart!

What is the growth mind-set? – The growth mind-set focuses on “process” and hard work rather than on talent or intelligence. The growth mind-set places greater importance on learning through effort, hard work and overcoming challenges, and not running from them.

Many people assume that superior intelligence, capability or talent is the key to success. While this definitely helps, it is not necessarily the key, or the only key, to success. Research conducted over more than three decades shows that an overemphasis on intelligence or talent alone may cause feelings of vulnerability and a fear of challenges. Such feelings may stem from the notion that intelligence and talent are innate qualities and therefore pre-determine one’s capabilities and standards for learning and achieving. This is not true.

Tutors, parents and teachers can engender a growth mind-set in learners through praise for persistence, dedication, and hard work rather than for being clever. Simply telling a learner they are smart can instil a sense of laziness (or a fixed mind-set) because learners feel they are clever enough not to have to work or put in any effort. Such learners may thrive in earlier grades under the impression that not working while still maintaining good grades, means they are smart or gifted. Unfortunately, this ease seldom extends to higher grades and these learner’s results may later plummet. Rather than telling your learner how smart they are, praise them for their effort and what they did right. Tell learners success stories that emphasise and inspire hard work and an appreciation for learning.

Further research indicates that a growth mind-set better equips learners to deal with failure or bad grades. Learners who do not maintain a growth mind-set and have coasted by thinking they are too smart to make an effort, may attribute failure or a decline in grades to a lack of ability or intelligence rather than a simple lack of effort. Learners with a growth mind-set are more inclined to see a challenge or an issue as a problem to be solved instead of an obstacle they don’t have the capability or intelligence to overcome.

Tutors, teachers and parents should encourage learners to see the brain as a learning machine. If we see the brain as a machine that is constantly learning (which it is), then we are more likely to believe that we can expand our knowledge and skill-set through hard work and effort.

We at BrightSparkz Tutors agree that the brain is a learning machine and our tutors pride themselves on helping your learners to overcome any difficulty they may be experiencing through fun, dedication and enjoyment in learning!

If you want to learn more about the growth mind-set, visit to view the entire article.

Tutor Tips: How to Sharpen Your Mind

Keeping the mind focused and attuned to what you are supposed to be focused on can be challenging! This is especially applicable for those of us who have busy schedules and who are in the middle of exams. Knowing the trivialities of distraction and procrastination; here is a list of ways to help you sharpen your mind:

  • Stay Active – Research shows that the more active you are; the better you are at retaining information and the less likely you are to suffer from memory loss as you get older. This doesn’t mean that you need to be at the gym every day. Instead, consider taking a daily walk or a different route to work or school in order to keep your mind and body active and engaged.
  • Break Things Up! – It is easier to memorize larger topics in parts. Once you are used to remembering smaller sections of information, you can start processing bigger chunks as you go along. This way you will get used to retaining more information each time.
  • Keep Things Organized – It’s difficult to remember things if your surroundings are disorganised. Take the time to organise your studies and study environment because the brain will then be able to sort what you study in a similar way as to how you organized it in the physical space
  • Visualize – Some studies suggest that it helps to visualize what it is you want to remember. The brain works by creating visuals of things. For example, when you read the word “dog” your brain doesn’t conjure up an image of the letters d-o-g, but rather the word invokes images of what a dog is. Rather than trying to get your brain to remember random symbols, attach the meaning of those symbols to visual cues and concepts that are easier to remember.
  • Use Associations – The brain works by building a large network of associations. That’s why there are certain words, phrases, and images that automatically make us link and remember certain things. If you want to remember someone’s name (especially in history), it’s good to build a memory association around it. That way all you have to do is remember the association, and the name should pop up along with it.
  • Use Mnemonics – This involves using phrases like Never Eat Silk Worms to remember the order of compass directions; N (North) E (East) S (SOUTH) and W (West). Mnemonics provide clues about what you’re trying to remember. If you have to remember a list of random items, it may be easier to establish a mnemonic in order to keep it organized and help you remember the first letter of each item on that list.
  • Rehearse and Rephrase – Rehearsing what you need to remember is a great way to commit it to memory. This will add repetition; and tutors, this is especially helpful for younger learners! Rephrase large sections of information into a short story or rhyme to help your learners remember information in a fun way.
  • Use Gestures – When you use or make gestures such as tapping, clapping, snapping, and others in conjunction with what you’re trying to remember, it commits this information to your muscle memory.
  • Say it Loud – Saying what you want to remember aloud helps you to remember things better and to recall it later. People have an aural memory when hearing what is spoken. This engages a different part of your brain, which can be beneficial to the process of recalling what it is you need.
  • Lastly, stay hydrated and feed your brain – Water, water, water! And remember the food you eat has a direct effect on your brain, which is why it’s essential to eat foods that contain the proper antioxidants for brain health.


Written by Kristin Naude of BrightSparkz Tutors – English and Maths Tutor