January Family Focus: Developing Growth Mindsets

As you might remember, my husband and I decided to focus family conversations, meetings, read alouds, and more on 12 character traits in 2020, one for each month.

As a way to connect my Children’s Lit Love work to our family’s goals, I’m publishing booklists at the beginning of each month, centered around the character trait theme for that month. Most of my posts throughout that month, then, will be specific book recommendations, conversations we’re having, or activities that we’re doing around that specific trait. You can see my January booklist of 25+ books to foster growth mindsets here.

Our family focus of the month for January is fostering growth mindsets. While we spent a lot of time reading our growth mindset books starting January 1, and we had many informal conversations around “I can do hard things” attitudes and things we might want to learn in 2020, our family focus on developing (and strengthening, because my husband already has a pretty strong growth mindset in most areas) growth mindsets didn’t formally start until Sunday night. Read on to see what that conversation looked like!


We started off our intentional family time with spaghetti, as the girls recently declared that my husband makes the “best spaghetti ever!” Given that we wanted the girls happy and contently full for our family meeting, feeding them a meal they’d love was an obvious way to start. I knew I wanted to start the formal growth mindset conversation with a book (of course!), so I chose a more directly instructional book for this purpose, My Strong Mind: A Story About Developing Mental Strength (Amazon Affiliate link) by Niels Van Hove. If you’re interested in reading more about this book, you can find it in my list of 25+ books to foster growth mindsets.

After that book, we spent a few minutes briefly discussing some of the takeaways from the book. Did we have any personal connections with the main character, Kate? What made Kate happy? What was difficult for Kate? What strategies did she have to deal with those difficult situations? What did we learn from Kate that we can remember for ourselves?


Then, we set specific goals for the year, goals of one thing we each wanted to learn to do in 2020. I got this idea from Beth at Days with Grey, and I loved the focus on learning a new skill, rather than setting goals of something to do or mindsets and habits to change. A goal of learning a new skill allows for concrete conversations about steps to take to learn that skill, and process can be tracked more easily. Given that we’re working through these as a family, and our family includes our 4-year-old and 6.5-year-old daughters, having these concrete conversations appealed to me.


To create these learning goals, we went around the table and chatted through a few ideas of things we all hope to learn. These conversations allowed us to learn a little more about each other, as well as to narrow our ideas down (for example, though I’ve said for years that I really want to learn how to knit, I decided not to make that my goal for the year, because I don’t really have an end goal with it… I’m not sure what product I’d knit once I learn, nor do I really see a real need or benefit to developing knitting skills in my life). We wrote our goals together on one large sheet of paper (our older daughter scribed for our younger one), and then we all signed our names to our goals.


So, what are our goals? I’m hoping to learn to do yoga one day a week (and yes, I accomplished this yesterday, so I’m off to a good start!), my husband wants to learn to exercise in the morning at least once a week, our older daughter hopes to learn to do a back flip over the bar in gymnastics, and our younger wants to learn to write the alphabet. Concrete, simple, and measurable!


Finally, we started a list (the teacher in me does still adore a good anchor chart!) of ways that we can change our language to change our mindsets. For inspiration, I simply searched “growth mindset anchor chart” and modeled mine after the many, many images that will pop up. By having this chart (which we’ll add to over the course of the month), when one of us is stuck, frustrated, worried, or scared about a new experience, we can quickly refer to the chart to help ourselves or each other change our mindsets.


Our list of learning goals for 2020, as well as our growth mindset language chart, is posted squarely on our refrigerator door. Hanging these charts in a central place in our house allows us to see them multiple times a day (almost every minute that we are at home, in fact!), so that we can keep our goals and our growth mindset language ideas at the forefront of our minds.

Have you ever set intentional goals like this with your family? Will you join us in 2020? What do YOU want to learn this year?

If you liked this post, be sure to check out yesterday’s post featuring 25+ books to foster growth mindsets!

10 thoughts on “January Family Focus: Developing Growth Mindsets

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