We are big on Research
Our educational content has been created by an NSW accredited teacher with a Masters in International Public Health
Grow Your Mind uses a blended learning approach to allow for a broad range of learners and teachers to access the content, ideas and strategies. We have created resources that incorporate explicit, collaborative, play-based and digital learning.
In 2021 an external evaluation of the Grow Your Mind schools program was completed by the Psychology Department at The University of Wollongong. The results were very compelling and highlighted students who had access to the Grow Your Mind program showed the following:
– reduction in negative affect,
– positive gains in physical and psychological wellbeing
– quality of the child’s interactions with others, sense of connection, belonging and engagement.
To read a summary of the evaluation project results please click here.
The full evaluation report can be found here.
Our curriculum aligned lesson plans, physical and digital resources are based on positive psychology, neuroscience and public health research. We aim to take what can sometimes be dry and complex wellbeing topics and make them digestible and relevant for 3 – 12 year olds.
Grow Your Mind has developed its content with a strong awareness that wellbeing must be a whole of school approach and involve students, school staff as well as families in the process. We developed content based on the research behind character strengths, compassion, emotional regulation, respectful relationships, growth mindset and resilience, all of which are in line with the NSW Wellbeing Framework for Schools. This framework is a result of an abundance of research that underpins their current focus: Connect, Succeed and Thrive.
Australian schools are required to teach social and emotional wellbeing skills. We have developed units of work, educational resources and video lessons that aim to develop the social and emotional development of children.
It is recognised by both the Australian and NSW curriculum that relationships and emotional skills affect how and what we learn. Grow Your Mind aims to support this educational process by creating and providing tools for teachers, families and students.
The Durlak study is a meta analysis from CASEL ( Collaborative for academic, social and emotional learning centre) it highlights the benefits of emotional wellbeing in schools. This is among a long list of scientists, psychologists and educational leaders who have influenced the Grow Your Mind program.
Grow Your Mind is built upon four pillars to promote mental health & wellbeing:
1. Positive Psychology – the study of the strengths that contribute to individual and community thriving and wellbeing
2. Social and Emotional Learning – the study of how individuals acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours needed to develop the skills for self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
3. Public Health – the study of the prevention of illness and promotion of health
4. Neuroscience – the study of the function and structure of the brain and nervous system.
In 2021, the University of Wollongong conducted an external evaluation of the Grow Your Mind Program. Participants were 32 teachers, 657 students across 25 classrooms from 3 schools. Classes were matched and then randomly assigned to either participate in the Grow Your Mind program or continue with their routine practice.
Responses to validated surveys indicated positive impacts for those whose class teachers participated in the Grow Your Mind program.
- Positive gains in physical and psychological wellbeing
- A reduction in negative effect
- An increase in the quality of the child’s interactions with others
- An increase in the child’s sense of belonging and engagement
Some of the (MANY) key researcher and leaders who have inspired Grow Your Mind:
MARTIN SELIGMAN, PENN UNIVERSITY
Martin Seligman is the founder of modern day positive psychology (the scientific study of what enables individuals and communities to flourish). He is the recognised authority on interventions that prevent depression, build strengths and wellbeing.
Grow Your Mind in particular focuses on:
OPTIMISM: Seligman states that optimism can be a learned behaviour and should be a priority for children, in order to build resilience, prevent poor mental health and extend life. At Grow Your Mind we have created the concept of shark and dolphin thinking as a playful way to teach optimism and pessimism. From a young age we aim to teach children that not all thoughts are facts and that some thoughts can be helpful and others can be unhelpful.
GRATITUDE: Seligman has highlighted that gratitude is a powerful technique to practice in order to boost long term happiness, in fact it is the key ingredient in all long term studies on people who feel happy for extended periods of their life. It is also a big component of building optimism. Seligman refers to fascinating research on these topics.He has also written numerous books and carried out his own studies in this area. At Grow Your Mind we provide every day suggestions for practising gratitude in an authentic way. The strategies we suggest vary from journals, reflection questions, meditation and highlighting children’s literature that supports the practice.
DR BARBARA FREDRICKSON, NORTH CAROLINA
Barbara Fredrickson has completed numerous studies on broadening emotions and their impact on our emotional and physical health. In particular she has focused on what joy, kindness, love and gratitude do to our mental health. At Grow Your Mind we created the Flip to Flourish which has over 60 invitations for ways we can flourish. We also developed the Take Care of Your Mind poster with lessons to highlight every day habits we can grow to increase positive emotions. The Grow Your Mind podcast consists of 7 episodes that highlight the importance of positive emotions. We developed the DOSE poster, each letter stands for a different neurotransmitter with examples of ways your brain can release these. We have multiple student reflection journals as well as bite sized video lessons on these topics for teachers and students to use.
DR CAROL DWECK, STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation. Dweck has focused on mindsets, which are -the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our most basic qualities.Through her work she has highlighted the power of praising effort in children as opposed to talent. Her studies have spotlighted the power of imparting knowledge about Fixed vs Growth mindset to children – that their brains are always growing – that intelligence is not fixed.
At Grow Your Mind we have created the Growth Mindset Tree poster along with lessons and reflection questions to further support cultivating a growth mindset. The poster is a visual representation of the things we say to ourselves when we face a problem, when we are learning something new and when we hand in our work.
KAREN REIVICH, PENN UNIVERSITY
Karen Reivich has studied and created the 7 habits of growing resilience in people:
- emotional awareness
- impulse control
- realistic optimism
- flexible thinking
- self efficacy
- reaching out (taking risks)
- We created the Grow Your Mind podcast to teach the key steps to positive mental health and resilience. There are 7 episodes each with a core theme addressing wellbeing.
VIA INSTITUTE OF CHARACTER
In the early 2000s Scientists discovered a common language of 24 character strengths. These are the qualities that come most naturally to you. Every individual possesses all 24 character strengths in different degrees, giving each person a unique character strength profile. When you know your strengths, you can improve your life and thrive. Everyone possesses all 24 character strengths in different degrees, so each person has a truly unique character strengths profile. At Grow Your Mind we created the character strengths posters, discussion pointers for explaining strengths and other values in a child friendly way, lesson plans, reflection journals and a Guess Who video series to playfully teach what character strengths are.
DR DAN SIEGEL
Siegel turns leading brain science into simple and effective solutions to nurture children’s wellbeing and boost mental health. In one of his books, The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr Bryson) , Siegel offers powerful research based tools for helping children develop emotional intelligence. Siegel explains how the brain works and promotes the idea that giving very young children self-understanding can lead to a greater ability to make good choices and ultimately a more meaningful and joyful life. One strategy the authors share is for adults to understand the concept of the “upstairs” and “downstairs” brain which uses the analogy of a two-story house to illustrate aspects of kids’ brains. The downstairs brain includes lower regions of the brain that are responsible for basic functions (like breathing and blinking) as well as impulses and emotions (like anger and fear). Siegel’s analogy of ‘Flipping the lid’ is another helpful example of understanding the brain and emotional regulation.
Grow Your Mind created animal characters to playfully teach key parts of the brain. Using stories and animal analogies to teach complex subject matter has been done throughout time. We created these animals and our story to introduce the basics of neuroscience in an engaging way for young and old.We developed posters displaying each animal, an animation, student reflection journals and our podcast integrates the animals into each episode.
The above is only the beginning! Our resources have been influenced by
many researchers, psychologists and teachers. We are continually energised by organisations, podcasts, books, Ted Talks, blogs, websites & journal articles. Here is again a small snapshot of these: