BY CHIOMA IWUNZE-IBIAM

You probably knew someone who was so smart in school, you were in awe of their brains. Until recently, scientists argued that intelligence was a fixed innate gift from the parents. There are many other factors that influence a child’s intelligence levels.

Studies have shown that it is possible to boost your child’s intelligence and creativity. The secret is to utilise the first ten years of the child’s life. Within that rare window of opportunity, the child’s brain can develop complex neural networks. And so the right steps should be taken to enhance the ‘wiring’ of the child’s brains.

Are you looking for tips that can boost the intelligence levels of adults and children?

Here are twelve science-proven ideas you can explore:

1. Get adequate sleep

Research has shown that children need to get at least eight hours of sleep for their bodies and minds to rest and develop. Sleep-deprived kids are at a risk of slow cognitive growth and maturation.

One study showed that students who score As got at least 15 minutes more sleep than those who got Bs. And students who scored Bs also got fifteen minutes more sleep than students who scored Cs.

Sleep is vital in improving your child’s mental development. Make sure your children get enough sleep.

2. Eat a healthy breakfast

The importance of a healthy diet cannot be over-estimated. That’s why students are often encouraged to eat well on the morning of exams. The best kinds of breakfasts are high carbohydrate and high fibre foods that take time to digest. One example of this super food is the oatmeal and fish.

But what you eat one week before your test also influences your performance. One research study showed that college students performed well when their thinking speed and attention levels were tested. Then their diets were changed to high fat, high protein, low-carb diet heavy on meat, eggs, cheese and mayonnaise. When these same students were retested after five days, their performance was poorer. This proves that growing children shouldn’t be placed on a ketogenic diet.

Caffeine and glucose can also help boost attention levels of the child’s brain. So perhaps, treats are best given when children are studying.

3. Learn more than one language

Research has shown that children can learn as many as four languages with perfect fluency and pronunciation. Not only do bilingual children develop high literacy skills, they exhibit better concentration under pressure and are more attentive to important information.
If you want your children to be very smart, consider enrolling them for language lessons.

4. Practice makes perfect (Learn by doing)

Learning requires active participation. Science has shown that TV programs and DVDs don’t enhance the intelligence levels of children. It is best to introduce activities that involve active participation. For instance, after reading to your children, you request that they narrate the story in their own words. Encouraging children to draw pictures will help them learn to write.

As Coyle wrote in the talent code, humans evolved to learn by doing and not by watching. This goes to show that children are unlikely to forget when they learn by doing. If your child is struggling with either arithmetic, reading and comprehension, encourage them to practice for at least one or two hours every day.

5. Introduce awesome indoor learning toys/games

Every parent’s dream is to help their child get the most out of their playtime. The best way to do this is to invest in a variety of educational toys that can help enhance their intelligence levels and creativity. Avoid battery-operated toys that encourage passivity. You want the child to learn and discover new things in play time.

Younger children will learn a lot from stacking building blocks atop each other while trying to make objects. Building blocks help children use their imagination and strengthen cognitive coordination. It lays the foundation for building spatial skills, problem-solving skills, mathematics and science.

Chess and scrabble are great games that can help children improve their vocabulary as well as logical and critical reasoning skills.

6. Teach them to read along with you

In the past, parents read to children, mostly at bedtime. But the experts say that it’s better to read with them. Point out the words as you read. Encourage your children to look beyond the pictures on the pages of the book. Draw their attention to the words that are being read.

Research studies have shown that joint reading significantly enhances the development of children’s reading expertise and strategies. This method is particularly helpful for children with learning disabilities.

So when next your child asks you to read, say, “Okay dear, let’s read.” And mean it. If you’d like to discover more kids’ books and learning materials, you’ll find quite a number on this list of homeschooling and free learning websites.

7. Incorporate sports and exercise in daily routine

Contrary to popular opinion, sporting activities boosts brain power. This is true for adults as well as children. After exercising with my children, we are often able to read for longer periods of time, and they are likely to sleep better.

In fact, studies show that exercising increase your ability to learn faster. They also discovered that a three-month exercise routine increased blood flow to the part of the brain that is focused on learning and memory, by thirty percent.

So perhaps children should spend as much time in the library as they do engaging in sports. Children can be encouraged to jump ropes, ride bicycles, take up gymnastics or even dance.

8. Happy children are generally smarter

The science of happiness is one we’re constantly trying to understand. But for now, we know from research that happy kids have an advantage in our fast paced world. Happy people are more likely to have more fulfilling relationships and to succeed in the workplace.

The easiest and surest way to raise happier kids is by being a happy parent. Children raised in a loving and happy home are likely to grow up to be happy and successful adults.

9. Have faith in your children

Watch what you say to your children; they internalise your words. Intelligence levels and creativity increase when children feel loved and trusted. Kids want to know you have confidence in them.

A science study revealed that kids performed better when their teachers believed that they were very smart. In my creative writing classes, the children I homeschooled pushed themselves to write more creative stories when I told them they had great potential. So I learned to say, “You can do it. You’re a great writer. You’ll go places.”

This tended to lift their spirits as well as encourage them to push the boundaries. My wonderful homeschool-based resource materials helped a great deal, but so did my attitude. So, if you want your children to be smarter, start believing that they are.

10. Maintain a positive peer group

Intelligence is 50% hereditary, reveals one research study. The other 50% is influenced by the environment. And so children must pick their peer groups with utmost care.When I was in school, I noticed my grades dropped when I spent more time with unserious friends. And when I became friends with students who strove for academic excellence.

When I was in school, I noticed my grades dropped when I spent more time with unserious friends. And when I became friends with students who strove for academic excellence, My grade spiked remarkably. You children’s peers can influence their grades.

Studies show that students infect each other with good or bad study habits which can affect their grades. As parents, it is important to note that the following factors make a world of difference: living in a safe and serene neighbourhood, attending solid schools and ensuring that your children are always in good company.

11. Learn to make music

When I first heard about Mozart for babies, I was skeptical. How is it possible that the brain of the unborn child could grasp and relax at the sound of music? During all my pregnancies, I listened to my favourite classical music and old school rhythm and blues. After my children were born, I noticed that they reacted positively to the music I played before they were born. I didn’t know they were listening.

Music lessons enhance the IQ of children. A research study revealed that children in music groups performed a little better than their peers in IQ assessments, index marks, and in a standardised evaluation of academic performance.

Music is generally helpful for both children and adult. Another research showed that musical training enhances the learning abilities of students in the classroom.

12. Grit is more important than high IQ

To succeed in work, business and family life, you need more that a high IQ. What do you need then? Self-discipline and grit are what every child needs to be successful.

Many studies have shown that willpower is an essential habit for success. Students who exhibited self-discipline were likely to score higher than other students. And self-discipline had a bigger effect on academic performance than talent.

Want your child to be smart and successful? Help them build grit. That’s what they need.

Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam writes creative non-fiction and prose fiction. Her works have appeared in Romance Meets Life, Flash Fiction Press, MTLS, Saraba Magazine, Sentinel Magazine and others. Her first novel, Finding Love Again, was published by Ankara Press. She owns and manages Creative Writing News.



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