It is easy for us to assume that children are born with a naturally high level of intelligence or they’re not, and to think that as parents there isn’t much that we can do about it to influence how clever they will grow up to. In fact, intelligence is a much more even split when it comes to nature versus nurture. This means that while a certain amount of intelligence is innate, influence from parents can have a big impact on how smart our children think they are, and on their actual intelligence.
This doesn’t mean that you should start bombarding your child with foreign-language classes and math drills before they can even sit up on their own. Instead, you should focus on behavior that will encourage a developing mind and intellect, instead of only praising your child’s innate talent. Intelligence can be grown in children in fun and engaging ways, whether you want them to be curious about the world, or you want to make use of some easy tips for teaching letter sounds to raise little bookworms.
Talk To Them From Day One
Talking to your children, even when they are still very young babies, is the key to get their mental wheels to start turning. Even when your children are still much too young to understand what you are saying to them or what the words that you’re using actually mean, with repetition, they will eventually start to use context to work out what words mean. You can also start to ask your child open-ended questions to help them to start developing their opinions and their sense of self. Talking to them and asking questions will also show them that opinions and their sense of individuality matter.
Crack The Books Early
Reading can be a big predictor of what kind of success that children will in school when they get there. Start reading with your children well before they actually know what the words mean. Reading is a good way to stimulate the brain and will help your child to start building knowledge of the world. Reading to them and reading together will be a foundation of all their future learning, including math and science.
Make sure that you have age-appropriate books easily accessible in your home, such as on low shelves in your child’s bedroom, so your child can reach the books themselves. Model good reading habits by making sure that your children see you reading often. Talk to your children about what each of you is reading, and read together, to help build up conversation and reading comprehension skills.
Teach Your Children To Think Through Problems And Create Solutions
As much as it can be very tempting, try not to solve your children’s problems for them. Instead, encourage them to focus on one goal or problem at a time, and to work out how to reach that goal or solve their problem through creative thinking of their own. Give them the tools to solve their own issues. By asking them to do this, you are stimulating their brain and teaching them that they are capable of working through obstacles without your help. For example, if they encounter a difficult word when reading, don’t just tell them what it is. Instead, show them how to sound it out to work out how to pronounce it, and show them how to use a dictionary to find the meaning.
Praise Effort And Results, Not Simple Action
We live in a world that often gives out awards just for participation, but actually, teaching your children that they will always naturally be good at everything can make it much harder for them in the future to accept the failures and difficulties that life will always bring. Instead of praising the results or their natural abilities, praise their efforts and hard work.
By rewarding the effort that they put in, you can create kids who will be motivated to work and who will be capable of moving on when they come across a skill that doesn’t naturally come easily to them. Children who are always told they are naturally clever or talented are far more likely to get frustrated and to just give up when they are faced with a task that they find difficult.
By rewarding effort, you can also avoid raising children who get too stressed out by exam results. They know the hard work is what you value.
Set Expectations Early And Reinforce Them Often
You don’t have to turn into a tough parent, and set impossible or stressful standards, like always being top of the class or getting an A on every single test they take, but by setting some goals and expectations for your children from a young age, they will be more likely to see these goals as important to strive for, and achievable for them to reach. Good examples of overarching goals are graduating from college, taking part in extracurriculars or doing volunteer work.
Physical exercise has a lot of benefits for children. Not only does it make your children stronger and healthier, but it also has some mental benefits. Exercise can help to build brain cells by increasing blood flow to the brain. Enjoying being active also helps children to grow up into well-rounded adults who know how to keep fit.
Look For Teachable Moments
One of the simplest ways to raise smart children is to encourage them to use their brains during their downtime as well as at school. This can help them to develop their mental skills. Seek out teachable moments wherever you are, such as asking them to count apples in the check-out line at the grocery store, have a conversation with you about how solar power works when you drive past a house with solar panels or looking out for letters or numbers on signs while driving.
Encourage Curiosity And Exploration
Young children, especially preschoolers, are naturally very curious, but this inclination to explore can decrease as children get older unless this habit is practiced and encouraged. You can raise curious children by engaging them in topics that you know are of personal interest to them, whether that’s dinosaurs, a set of action figures, or their favorite pop star. Ask your child questions to spark some conversation, and share your own interests with them. For example, explain why your interests appeal to you.
You can also encourage an interest in the world around them by planning interesting, fun, and educational experiences such as trips to the museum, the aquarium, and the zoo. Even trips to sporting events or the movies can spark curiosity and help you and your child to discover and explore some shared likes and interests for you to discuss together.
Teach Your Child To Have A Growth Mindset
Encourage your children to view learning as a process through which hard work will get results. They will start out as novices in most things that they do, but will gradually become better and more skilled over time. By doing this from a young age, when your children are faced with more challenging tasks, they will hopefully view them as a chance to learn and grow, instead of being scared of them. This should also help them to value their own effort, and not see themselves as a failure if they aren’t immediately an expert at something.
Don’t wait for learning opportunities to present themselves. Look for things to do away from school to develop your child’s mental skills.