child stacking blocks

Growing Intelligence In Your Child

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Part I Understanding

I’ve seen some of the most intelligent children come from the most poverty stricken families. Families living in government housing with no running water kind of poverty. I’ve also seen some of the hardest to teach, ungrateful children come from families who spare no expense on tutors, books, and every app that promises to raise their child’s test scores.

I was a public school teacher for nearly 5 years and a daycare teacher for 6. In all my time around children, I started to wonder what these gifted children had in common.

Intelligence Is Complicated

Intelligence isn’t the same as an IQ score, and a high IQ doesn’t equal success. Intelligence is a mixture of genes, environment, and nurturing. Every family, child, and brain is different. So what’s the common thread?

In a nutshell, love.

Involved love to be more specific. Love that makes you read that book over and over and over. Love that motivates you to cook healthy meals. Love that makes you put everything away, and spend time with your child.

Large glass pyramid.

See, there’s this thing called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The foundation is things like food water and adequate shelter. Next is the need for safety. In the middle is the need for love and friendships. Then the need for self esteem . All the way at the top is self actualization. That is where a child is working to their fullest potential. That top tier is where gifted children are operating. The trouble begins if one of the bottom layers are absent or unstable.

When a child has to worry about having food or someone hitting them at home, how can anyone expect them to learn what a main idea is? I’ve had a student burst into tears during class because they are absolutely sure, “Mommy doesn’t love me anymore”. How could I ask that child to think about what long A says? Academic growth can’t happen when lower level needs are not being met.

Part II Take Action

Now that we have covered the basics, what can parents actually do to help build their child’s intelligence?

Talk

From the moment the baby is born, your child is listening. There is a direct correlation between the number of words a child hears between the ages of 1 and 5, and the child’s verbal IQ. Hearing noise on a screen will never be the same. Your child needs human interaction, even when you don’t think he/she is listening.

Read

Reading to your child for 20 minutes a day (or less depending on age) can significantly increase your child’s IQ. Teachers today are mainly sending reading home in the lower grades because of the spectacular difference it can make in a child’s education.

I used to cringe when I heard parents were just initialing the agenda saying they did the reading with their child. They cheated their own children! Read comics to your children. Read road signs. Read the directions on the macaroni and cheese. Just do it!

Play

Guess what, the old puzzles and blocks previous generations grew up with are still the best toys for our children, minus the lead paint. Today when we say, “go play”, it usually means pick up a screen.

During my daycare days, I came across so many children who could not hold a crayon. They couldn’t use a spoon. They couldn’t button their shirts. They had no motor skills because physical play turned into screen time.

Children who play with the old school toys have much better kinesthetic and spatial awareness, which in turn bolsters IQ. Who will grow up and be our architects and contractors if these skills continue to decline? Your child might be able to use all the Spanish Dora can teach him, but nothing grows IQ points like physical play.

Alone Time

You are your child’s parent, not their entertainment.

Boredom is a beautiful thing. It teachers your child to think for him or herself. It fosters creativity. It puts them in control of their own attention span.

I saw a big shift in education from it being the student’s job to pay attention, to it being the teacher’s job to entertain. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard it is to sit through a lecture when the teacher just does not care, but our kids expect to be blown away in every class and lesson.

The fun factor has become necessary to educate the students. Our children have had all forms of fun shoved in their faces since birth, so of course they believe that’s how life should be. Make time for your child. Let them know how important they are, but remember boredom is their problem to fix, not yours.

Just An Aside…

By writing this article, am I saying my child is a genius, and I’m the perfect parent? Absolutely not. Just recently my boy went on a full fledged tirade because the cat wouldn’t let him poke it’s butthole. I probably should have intervened, but that crap was funny.

Intelligence cannot be accurately measured or predicted, nor is it a free pass to success in life. All you can do is give your child the best foundation possible.   

Thank you to my guest collaborator, Alex. For more education resources, visit her site at http://www.teacherwritegood.com

For more parenting resources, check out my Ultimate Mom Life Planner at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SmallTownMamaShop

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