It is often believed that “what will be will be” no matter the effort you make. On the contrary, research findings have made us know that effort has a great effect on the result or output.
You may feel that raising an intelligent child is based on genetics alone however, you’ll be surprised by some of the findings we came across. It reveals that there are models and patterns for raising smart children based on various longitudinal studies.
Both the nature of a child and the nurturing of a child will work together to produce smart kids who will do exploits in one form or the other.
Nature is the inbuilt ability of a child while nurture is the influence a parent or guardian has on a child. Since we cannot overemphasize the benefits of making efforts and contributions to nurturing a child, it is important we carefully look into some salient points in raising an intelligent child as explained below:
How to Raise an Intelligent Child
- Start early communication
Inculcate the habit of good communication with them even when they seemingly know nothing. Talk to them always because communication is pivotal to their ability to learn and grasp.
As they grow to understand, ask them questions to get them thinking and also to know their views and opinion about several life issues. These shouldn’t be hard questions.
Knowing their ideas helps to reorient them if necessary. Do not do the dummy kind of talk, speak straight and correctly. They will certainly flow into it and get clues with time.
Pictures and objects such as toys are also good ways to illustrate during communication. It helps children to easily understand the information you are passing across.
Research has proven that higher intelligent quota is attributed to the number of words children hear from their parents or guardian before the age of three.
Strong communication skills are associated with higher intelligence, so if you are determined to raise an intelligent child why not initiate that chat now.
- Give them early exposure
The early days of a child form the child’s core character; therefore expose them to learning as soon as you can. Exposure is directly proportional to learning and learning is directly proportional to what they are capable of knowing.
Books are great tools for enhancing children’s imagination and thinking ability. Choose colourful books and colours that will get the attention of the child.
Read books to them when they are still young but as they grow, read books with them. This will help foster the brain. Ensure you read books too as they are most likely to follow suit.
Learning doesn’t necessarily have to be numbers and alphabet alone; it can be activities that will challenge them or interest them. Make an effort to expose children to culture, music, games, colours, playing with other kids and a mentally stimulating environment etc.
For example, children who learn music tend to comprehend better with their academics; and most times, their overall performance in school is better than children who are not engaged in music lessons.
- Encourage a growth mindset
Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychologist found out in her research that children who are made to feel that their high or low academic performance impacts their future success tend to have a fixed mindset with no motivation to learn.
It is therefore important to let a child know that their innate ability in terms of their intellect and talent is simply just the foundation. Let your child know that there is great room for improvement through diligence and persistence.
When children focus more on their advancement, it pushes them to work hard and invariably leads to better outcomes.
- Give kudos to input and excellence
Praise efforts and success. Encourage simple actions. Don’t create unnecessary applause for small deeds, especially those resulting from natural abilities; rather encourage them to do more even if it involves challenges.
Note that praising them for average performance might make them susceptible to settling for less. It also makes them accept life as it is, with a likelihood of getting discouraged when faced with challenges.
- Exercise regularly
Exercise comes with great mental and physical health benefits. Exercise builds the brain so beware of always cautioning your child when they are active.
Inactivity limits their brain development. Being fit increases the ability to learn.
- Create a well-cultured routine
What you make them do in the early stage of their lives has a way of sticking with them. Create a routine that captures when to exercise, time to eat, read, play, as well as duration for screen time, sleep, house chores, and all possible vital activities that will aid their learning.
Assigning duties to children teaches them to be independent. In one way or the other, this will help them to learn about planning and aid them to do likewise as they grow.
Irregular ways of doing things will likely raise children who live their lives without goals, thus having nothing to propel them for excellence. Children who are exposed to routine structures will most likely build a culture of setting personal goals and creating career targets; these are indicative steps in the process of becoming an intelligent child.
- Allow their curiosity
Children are naturally inquisitive, always with the desire to know what, where, why, when, and how things happen. If you must raise an intelligent child, please permit their curiosity.
In order to bring out more in the quest for knowledge, you can engage them in what you know they love to do or topics of their interest. Make them visit places that can encourage learning and curiosity.
Ensure there is always a desire to know more. That is why parents or guardians who desire to raise an intelligent child must be proactive by not leaving the duties of learning new things to the school alone.
Make findings of other activities outside school that will help mental development.
- Provide nutritious food
Well balanced and nutritious food helps the cognitive development of a child. Pay attention to the type of food given to your child.
Ensure you give food rich in essential vitamins and minerals that will help the overall development of your child.
- Limit screen time
With the rapidly growing digital age, screen time is almost unavoidable. Much screen time is linked with irregular sleep which is detrimental to proper brain development.
This is further proven by Sadeh of NurtureShock who explained that loss of an hour of sleep in children is equivalent to two years of cognitive maturation and development.
Also, instead of allowing your child to just be a passive consumer, encourage your child to create content thereby allowing them to be creative in using their intellects.
Productive skills such as programming, coding, making animation, answering quizzes, or tests could also be learned or done during screen time.
- Avoid being overprotective
Allow your child to solve problems starting with little things. This doesn’t mean that you do not love or care about them but rather, it motivates them to think creatively and produce results.
In raising an intelligent child, avoid rushing to have everything fixed for them. Otherwise, your child will find it difficult to be independent. Children need this independence to be able to think, thus encouraging them to become problem solvers.
An intelligent child is one who finds a solution to problems and if possible, becomes an inventor. Discover the line between being protective vs being over-protective and switch when necessary, to ensure you do not become a barrier to your child’s progress.
- Intelligent peer group
Encourage and position your child to mingle with other brilliant and intelligent children. Research has shown that when students with poor grades associate with students with higher grades, their grades are likely to improve.
Just like the saying “iron sharpens iron”, a child is more likely to excel in the mix of other intelligent children than in the company of not so bright kids. These like minds are able to share ideas of witty inventions and challenge themselves towards achieving greatness.
In conclusion, raising an intelligent child requires the self-discipline of both the parents and the child. It needs a strong determination to fuel the journey.