How to Build a Growth Mindset Culture in a Pre-K Classroom

In our class, everyone knew to always “do your best.”  These three magic words changed everything.

In this episode, get all the tools and mindsets to build a classroom culture around effort and growth. It really is amazing… when you praise kids for their hard work and self-betterment, kids will work really hard to make themselves better! 

This idea of praising the process — giving students credit for their hard work rather than their intelligence, was developed by Carol Dweck as part of her Growth Mindset Theory.  If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Carol Dweck and her Growth Mindset Theory, here is how she describes it on her website:

“Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their qualities (such as intelligence and other personality traits) are “set in stone”– how God made you is basically who you are.  One’s traits are fixed — not something that can be practiced or developed.

Individuals with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that effort or training can change one’s qualities and traits.”

So essentially, with hard work, focus, and practice, anything is possible! Nothing is set in stone. Any child can grow up to be anything or anyone through their own tenacity, effort, and willpower. The theory also states that praising children for their intelligence (“You’re so smart!”) can actually be harmful long-term because students get locked into the idea of being smart. If a child’s identity is wrapped up in their intelligence, what happens when situation comes along that challenges their intelligence? What happens when they struggle with a problem or a new concept? Identity Crisis!

Dr. Dweck explains that when you praise kids for hard work and effort (“You’re such a hard worker”), they have no such crisis. When faced with a challenging situation, these children aren’t worried about their perceived “intelligence.” They only care about doing their best and working hard to solve the problem. That’s within their control and they can always take pride in their effort! They don’t control if other people think they are smart and they don’t care! Because being smart is not nearly as important as being a hard worker and sticking with a problem. 

“Do your best” was our class mantra,  but there are plenty other “Cultural Callbacks.”

Wait. What’s a cultural callback?

You’re probably familiar with traditional callbacks – like “class, class” “yes, yes” – that bring students’ attention back to the teacher or assignment. Cultural Callbacks bring students’ attention back to – you guessed it! – the classroom culture! And that culture is always centered around praising effort and doing your best. Now everyone is different and I know “Do Your Best” may not be the Cultural Callback that you want to be saying every single day. That’s why I’ve provided you with a freebie that includes 10 Cultural Callbacks so you can pick those that work best for your personality and your classroom!

If you want to push your students to reach their full potential while also building their self-esteem, this is the podcast for you!

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Developing a growth mindset culture is the real deal. This may sound crazy, but by the end of last year, my preschool students were reading, writing their own original fairy tales, doing math, learning about economics and entrepreneurship, writing their own business plans, and that’s not even half of it! And the really crazy thing…


They needed more challenges! How is that possible?  Find out in this week’s episode.  

Resources and People Mentioned in this Podcast:

  1. FREEBIE – 10 Cultural Callbacks to Build a Growth Mindset
  2. Carol Dweck – Growth Mindset
  3. Scott Adams – How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
  4. Puzzles – Penguins on Ice
  5. Puzzles – IQ Fit
  6. Puzzles – Anaconda
  7. Puzzles – Color Code
  8. Puzzles – IQ Link
  9. Washington Post – Why Reading Can Be Harmful 

Show Notes (w/times):

  • 1:47 – Taking on Failure
  • 5:00 – Do Your Best Culture
  • 7:31 – Mindset Shift
  • 9:29 – Strategies to Build a Growth Mindset Culture
  • 21:10 – Actionable Next Steps
  • 24:04 – Changes you can expect to see

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post. Also, please leave an honest review for the Punk Rock Preschool Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful and greatly appreciated and I will read all of them!  If you have any questions or want to learn more, head on over to! And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates!

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