It is every parent’s dream to let their children perform well in their studies, get a good job, communicate well, etc. How do you achieve all these? Should you devote your entire time to your children to make them smarter or more intelligent? Is there one right way to raise smart children? What should you do to raise a smart kid?
Read on as well tell you 15 ways to raise a smart kid. Try these unconventional, research-backed steps and ensure your child grows up to reach their full potential.
However, remember that as each child is special and learns at their own pace, try these tips keeping in mind the qualities and temperament of your child, and help them learn without being judged or compared to other children.
15 Ways To Raise A Smart Kid
1. Focus on the process rather than the result
A report published in Scientific American suggests that emphasizing the process of gaining knowledge and not on intelligence or ability is key to raising smart children (1).
The study found that children who are often told by their parents and teachers that they are smart and intelligent stagnated in their growth compared to children who developed through constant hard work, determination, and focus.
Do not praise the child for the result. Instead, appreciate their effort. It is imperative you make your child understand that success also includes overcoming defeats and difficulties.
2. Read aloud to your children
Often, parents buy expensive toys and gadgetsto make sure their children learn quickly while all they need is a very simple activity that can do wonders; reading aloud. Research indicates that it helps children develop language and literacy skills (2). It is a practice that requires just 15-20 minutes of your time, and you could start it even before your child starts attending school.
Also, when you read aloud, your child gets to hear new words, thus improving their vocabulary.
3. Make them feel bored
It is impossible to keep ourselves engaged and entertained all the time. This is even more true for children. A flickering attention span could add to the parents’ woes. Boredom, a broad term that explains the feeling of immediate disinterest in activities, is often considered a negative thing. However, boredom can do wonders and spark your children’s creativity (3) (4).
You needn’t be weighed down by the idea of having to keep your children engaged at all times. Allow them to get bored, and only then will they find a way to spend their time productively.
4. Provide a stress-free, healthy environment
It is crucial that a child feels secure in their environment. Stress of any kind can lead to impairments in learning and memory. Often, when parents put a lot of stress on the child to perform better or when the relationship between people at home is not very promising, it can adversely affect the child. The happier and safer a child feels, the better they behave and learn (5) (6).
5. Be attached to your child
The barriers to learning and developmental growth can be tackled through emotional attachment. Studies have established a link between the IQ scores of children and how deeply attached they are to their parents (7).
Research also indicates that close attachment with parents is critical to children’s emotional and social development (8). Therefore, it is crucial that you listen to your child, make eye contact, and modulate the tone of your voice, etc., to build a secure attachment with your child.
6. Attune your child’s ears to music
Music touches the soul and refreshes the mind. It also makes the brain sharper and smarter. An increasing number of studies have proven that music has a direct connection with how smart your child grows up to be. Music can have a very positive effect on the developing brains of young children.
Studies show that listening to music boosts attention and lowers stress levels. It also acts as a great motivator, facilitating better learning and memory. Also, learning a musical instrument is known to help increase IQ levels significantly (9) (10).
7. Give them a nutritious breakfast
A recent study carried out by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing has established a direct correlation between a regular, nutritious breakfast and higher IQ test scores in children (11). The study noted the nutritional and social aspects of breakfast play a vital role in their verbal as well as academic performance.
The most important meal of the day, breakfast supplies vital minerals and vitamins to the brain. Additionally, social interaction with family members at the breakfast table allows children to expand their vocabulary and general knowledge and comprehend stories. Children who have breakfast daily also have better memory and longer attention spans.
8. Encourage unstructured play
Everybody understands the importance of exercise and playtime in a child’s development. It is all the more important that you ensure your kids exercise their muscles and brain and indulge in some unstructured playtime. Free play helps in the development of social skills and also sparks creativity.
This playtime mustn’t be exclusive to the sports training that children receive in schools. Encourage voluntary play as it promotes better learning and improves language and problem-solving skills (12) (13).
9. Put children to bed early
Studies suggest that young children need at least 10 hours of sleep each day (14). Children with regular bedtimes have been observed to have better memory, language skills, and problem-solving ability. Studies also suggest that we are more likely to retain what we’ve learned if we sleep shortly after our studies (15).
10. Help them learn a new language
Languages play a crucial role in how your children turn out to be. Children have the innate ability to pick up languages. Studies have also proven that a child who learns a second language or a foreign language before the age of ten is culturally more informed and smart.
Children learn a language faster, retain it better, and most often, speak it with a nearly accurate pronunciation than adults. Recent research also indicates that young children can learn and process up to five languages (16).
11. Ensure a positive peer group for your child
The kind of company your child keeps in the neighborhood and at school will have a major impact on them. Although we usually associate peer pressure with negative effects, it can benefit children and make them smart. A good neighborhood, a balanced school, and well-behaved and inquisitive children around your child will have a significant impact on your child’s learning. Exposed to peers of diverse cultures, they are likely to absorb more information (17).
A study by economist Bruce Sacerdote elucidates how powerful this influence can be. He states that students with low grade-point averages showed an increase in their scores when they interacted and befriended higher-scoring students (18).
12. Manage their screen time
Concerns continue to be raised about the negative impacts of prolonged screen time in children. Apart from childhood obesity and behavioral issues, excessive screen time has also been linked to irregular sleep and lack of creativity (19). Additionally, children may also be exposed to violent or sexual content. However, many parents continue to depend on these digital devices to entertain their children during their busy schedules.
Difficult as it may be to avoid digital connection altogether, a little management can help parents. Allow age-appropriate programs, and be aware of the advertisements and how they influence children’s minds. You could also encourage your child to learn other activities that do not involve screens (20).
13. Become their smart parent
Children learn by emulating their parents and elders. Therefore, as parents, you are their first teachers. Be smart to make them smart. What you do is likely to influence them directly. If your children see you reading or writing, they are likely to pick up a book and read, and if they see you dancing or singing, they will most surely try to match your steps (21).
Your behavior and actions majorly impact how your child develops habits and makes sense of the world. So, engage in creative talk and activities that encourage their development.
14. Involve them in chores
They may not do it perfectly the first time, but involving children in household chores is beneficial for their development and enhances their cognitive, logical reasoning, and management skills. It depends on how well you incorporate it in their routine (22) (23) (24).
These chores can be as simple as sorting vegetables, clearing the table, and folding clothes. While at it, you can also teach them measurements, calculations, and time management and add some fun to it.
15. Introduce math to them early on
Many parents introduce math as a complex subject to their children, unconsciously instilling a fear of the subject in them. According to research done by Dr. Greg Duncan, et al., learning math skills early on in life leads to later achievement and improved attention skills (25).
The best way to do this is to introduce math in everything and have fun with numbers, whether it is counting the gadgets in your house, sorting the good and bad tomatoes, or skip counting the stairs.
Every child deserves a fair chance at reaching their full potential. Your inputs in their developmental stage will determine how bright they grow up to be. All you need to do is provide the right and much-needed push at the right age to make sure your child shines bright.
2. E Duursma , M Augustyn, and B Zuckerman; Reading aloud to children: the evidence; BMJ Journals (2006).
3. Teresa Belton and Esther Priyadharshini; Boredom and schooling: A cross-disciplinary exploration; Cambridge Journal of Education (2007).
4. Boredom – Could it be creativity’s spark—or a cause for concern?; The President and Fellows of Harvard College
5. Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child – Harvard University
6. Excessive Stress Disrupts the Architecture of the Developing Brain; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child – Harvard University
7. Lisa E. Crandell and R. Peter Hobson; Individual Differences in Young Children’s IQ: A Social-developmental Perspective; The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2013).
8. Children’s Attachment: Attachment in Children and Young People Who Are Adopted from Care, in Care or at High Risk of Going into Care; The British Psychological Society & The Royal College of Psychiatrists (2015).
9. Children’s brains develop faster with music training; University of Southern California
10. Kathleen A. Corrigall, E. Glenn Schellenberg, and Nicole M. Misura; Music training, cognition, and personality; Frontiers in Psychology (2013).
11. Can breakfast make kids smarter?; University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
12. The serious business of play; American Psychological Association
13. Playtime in peril; American Psychological Association
14. Lisa Matricciani et al.; Children’s Sleep Needs: Is There Sufficient Evidence to Recommend Optimal Sleep for Children?; Sleep (2013).
15. Ullrich Wagner et al.; Brief Sleep After Learning Keeps Emotional Memories Alive for Years; Biological Psychiatry (2006).
16. Babak Ghasemia and Masoud Hashemi; Foreign Language Learning During Childhood; Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences (2011).
17. With a Little Help from my Friends—The Importance of Peer Relationships For Social-Emotional Development; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
18. Bruce Sacerdote ; Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates; The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2001).
19. Screen Time and the Brain; The President and Fellows of Harvard College
20. Screen Time and Children; American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
21. Young children learn by copying you!; Michigan State University
22. Richard Rende; The developmental significance of chores: Then and now; The Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter (2014).
23. Elizabeth M White, Mark D DeBoer, and Rebecca J Scharf; Associations Between Household Chores and Childhood Self-Competency; Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (2019).
24. The benefits of kids doing chores; Michigan State University
25. Children’s Early Academic and Attention Skills Best Predict Later School Success, According to Analysis of Large-Scale Studies; American Psychological Association