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Developing a Growth Mindset in Struggling Readers

Categories: Education & Teaching, General, Learning Disabilities, The Digital Age

By the time Samantha reached 4th grade, she had lost hope of keeping up with her friends who liked to read books. Samantha did not get good grades. She would not make the honor roll again this year. She knew she was not dumb, far from it, but her reading was slow and confusing. Reading assignments were getting harder.

“Why can’t I get the gist of the stories I am assigned to read,” she thought.” “Why is everyone else talking about books in class, but not me?”  

Night after night Samantha struggled with her reading homework, often losing sleep. Like many students with reading challenges, she felt helpless. What Samantha needed was a jumpstart in her growth mindset – the empowerment to ask for help and to get the extra support and resources that she needed to break through her reading challenges. 

What is a Growth Mindset?

Psychologist Carol Dweck popularized the concept of a growth mindset in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Many educators use her theories to inform how they teach their students, but lots of teachers and parents have not heard of the approach.

According to Dweck, a “mindset” is a self-perception or “self-theory” that people hold about themselves – like believing that you are either “intelligent” or “unintelligent.” People’s mindsets typically relate to their personal or professional lives, such as -- “I’m a good teacher,” “I’m a bad parent, “I’m stupid because I can’t read,” or “I will never be a good student.” 

Students, especially children, are unaware of their mindset in their education journey.  Unless there is encouragement by a teacher or parent “not having a positive growth mindset” can have a profound negative effect on achievement, skill acquisition, relationships, and other life goals.

To help Samantha and students like her develop a positive growth mindset Dweck advises teachers and parents to consistently reinforce the fact that all children can learn with the right encouragement and resources. In Samantha’s case, a reading accommodation was just what she needed to gain access to curriculum assignments. Text in digital format enabled her to listen to information read aloud by a skilled narrator and she could easily follow the digital text highlighted in a background color that she could personalize on her technology device.

Reading Accommodation Makes the Difference

The reading accommodation was Learning Ally audiobooks – a comprehensive digital library with tens of thousands of audiobooks that align with grade-level requirements.  This solution, built for a school learning environment, provides teachers with an easy-to-manage dashboard to select and assign audiobooks and to monitor reading performance. Throughout the year, the nonprofit also develops creative, teacher-supported, reward-based reading activities and competitions to keep students reading independently and to build stronger reading habits.

Using an iPad and Learning Ally audiobooks, Samantha could read consistently for meaning. She understood what she read. She kept pace and more fluency. She liked seeing the highlighted words and listening to the narrator which helped her vocabulary to enlarge because she heard accurate word pronunciation. She completed reading assignments in less time, with less frustration. She slept soundly and was excited to participate in class. Samantha was proud that she could read the same book as her peers, which boosted her self-esteem. Teachers and parents praised her efforts, celebrated her resilience and encouraged her to read more books.

Audiobooks was the key to unlock Samantha’s academic potential. The reading accommodation was not so different from reading a book in print – she just read information on a technology device with earbuds. Today, close to 300,000 children, like Samantha, use Learning Ally human-read audiobooks to address their reading barriers, like dyslexia and vision impairments.

Sign up for a demo of Learning Ally today!

A growth mindset begins by acknowledging a child’s struggle and responding consistently with encouraging language, such as, “Reading is a challenge for you, but together we will find a solution to break through this barrier.”

Audiobooks can help you make that breakthrough!