How to Raise an Intelligent Child

Three Parts:Promoting Learning at HomeCommunicating With Your ChildStimulating Your Child’s Thirst for Knowledge at School

Raising an intelligent child offers both unique challenges and opportunities. At first glance, it seems that you’ll have to spend a lot more time and put forth a lot more effort to promote intellectual growth and curiosity in your child. While this is true, at the same time, you’ll be rewarded with a closer relationship and a better understanding of your child. You’ll also be able to nurture your child’s gifts and intelligence and expand his or her horizons.

Part 1
Promoting Learning at Home

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    Read to and with your child. Reading helps develop important communication skills, vocabulary, and grammar. In addition, reading helps children learn a lot more about the world. It expands their horizons and can bring them into contact with people and information that they might never experience otherwise. As a result, reading is one of the most important ways to raise and nurture an intelligent child.
    • Try reading with your child every day at least once. It's best to start doing this when your child is a baby.
    • Make reading fun for your child; use different voices and sounds to keep his or her attention.
    • Encourage your child to read on his or her own.
    • Encourage your child to discuss what he or she has read with you.
    • Schedule time for regular trips to the library.[1]
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    Regulate your child’s television watching. While television is not necessarily a bad thing for children to spend time watching, it presents several problems for parents who want to take a proactive stance raising their children. Perhaps most importantly, television occupies time that could be used on more stimulating activities. In addition, some studies have indicated that watching television can stunt the intellect or limit a child’s intellectual growth.
    • The US Department of Health recommends that children under the age of two do not watch TV or spend time in front of other screens, such as computers or tablets. Children between the ages of two and five should not have more than one hour of screen time each day and kids between the ages of five and 18 should have no more than two hours of screen time each day.[2]
    • Make sure that your child watches shows appropriate for him or her.
    • Have your child watch shows that stimulate his or her brain, such as “Discovery Kids.”
    • Treat television as a treat, not a right.
    • Make your child's television experience more active rather than passive; have your child sing along with the characters or talk to your child about what he or she sees or hears.[3]
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    Purchase your child toys that stimulate the brain. As educators and developmental theorist have known for a long time, toys are an important part of a child’s intellectual growth and development. As a result, you should put thought into the toys you purchase for your child and make sure that your child’s toys are developmentally advantageous. Of course all children are different, and different children use toys differently, so use your best judgement.
    • Toys and games that promote problem solving (like puzzles) are a good choice.
    • Toys and games that allow your child to express creativity (like Legos or Lincoln logs) are beneficial.
    • Toys that allow your child to physically move and touch things are often better choices than video games.
    • Video game time should be limited, and you should vet every video game to make sure it has educational and intellectual value before allowing your child to play.[4]
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    Nurture your child’s interests. An important element of raising an intelligent child is nurturing your child’s interests. Different children will demonstrate different proclivities and different interests. You should nurture this and promote uniqueness. You can do this by:
    • Positively reinforcing your child’s interest. If your child demonstrates an interest in history, take them to a historic site. If your child demonstrates an interest in science, take them to a science museum.
    • Buy them books that he or she is interested in.
    • Enroll them in programs that cater to their interests. If your child loves environmental science, find a summer environmental program for kids at a local university to enroll them in.
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    Expose your child to new things to challenge his or her interests. If you only cater to your child's interests, he or she might miss out on things they have not been exposed to. In order to prevent this, you should go out of your way to introduce your child to different ideas, cultures, and ways of life. Consider:
    • Introduce girls to traditionally masculine subjects like science, technology, engineering and math. Let your daughter know that she can choose these subjects as career paths, hobbies, and interests.
    • Introduce boys to traditionally feminine subjects spheres like cooking, childcare, and nurturing. Let your son know that he can choose to be a cook or a caregiver.
    • Introduce your child to different ways of viewing the world in terms of gender relations, culture, and intellectualism. Your child does not have to fit into any sort of traditional mold and can adopt different ideas in order to fashion their own unique identity.[5]

Part 2
Communicating With Your Child

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    Play with your child. Interact with your child as he or she plays. You can choose to sit down and play with him or her, or you can talk to your child as he or she plays. This way, you’ll learn more about your child and about his or her specific type of intelligence. You might also be able to steer them toward playing styles and activities that are more enriching. But remember:
    • Always let your child express his or her own creativity. Do not inhibit your child's creativity.
    • Don’t take over their play time.
    • There is no right way to “play.”[6]
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    Talk to your child. Talk to your child regularly about his or her interests. This way, you’ll learn about your child and you’ll be able to determine how your child is progressing intellectually over time. You can choose to talk about anything with your child, but it’s better to let your child choose the conversation.
    • When your child asks you something, turn it into a conversation rather than just quickly answering him or her.
    • Ask your child questions, and see how he or she responds. Remember, though, there is no right answer. Your goal should be just to engage your child.
    • One of the most important parts of talking is listening. Make sure you listen carefully to what your child is saying, rather than lecturing to him or her.[7]
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    Explain the world to your child. Use every opportunity to explain how things work to your child. This is a critical part of how children learn to understand the world. Use their development over time as a way to introduce them to the world.
    • When your child is young, between the ages of 2-4, explain basic and simple things.
    • Gradually introduce more complex topics as your child gets older.
    • Save topics like sex, budgeting, and the complexities of law for children near or over the age of 10.[8]

Part 3
Stimulating Your Child’s Thirst for Knowledge at School

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    Enroll your child in the best school for his or her abilities. Having your child attend the best school possible is key in nurturing your child’s intelligence. This is important because you want your child to be around peers and educators who are as committed to nurturing excellence as you and your child. In addition, you want your child to attend a school that has the resources to fund programs that will help your child stimulate his or her thirst for knowledge. Consider:
    • Charter or magnet schools.
    • Private schools.
    • Schools with high ratings.
    • Schools with special programs that will benefit your child, like those with well-developed STEM or art programs.[9]
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    Sign your child up for classes that will challenge him or her. While an intelligent child might succeed and prosper in any classroom, you should try to sign your child up for specific classes that will further challenge your child and help him or her expand his or her horizons. Specific classes that might nurture your child’s success include:
    • Non-conventional pre-kindergarten programs that promote creative growth.
    • Gifted programs in elementary school or middle school.
    • Honors classes in middle school and high school.
    • Advanced Placement classes in high school.
    • International Baccalaureate classes in high school.[10]
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    Communicate with your child’s teachers and school administrators. Communicating with your child’s teachers and administrators will help ensure that your child is getting the attention he or she needs and is being challenged to a level that will nurture their intelligence.
    • Keep an open dialogue with your child’s teachers and always be courteous and respectful.
    • Talk to your child’s teachers about higher level work that your child might be able to do in place of other work.
    • Talk to your child’s teachers about readings and activities your child can do outside of school.[11]
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    Find extracurricular activities that will stimulate your child’s intelligence and thirst for knowledge. Outside of academics, extracurricular activities are a great way to expand your child’s horizons at school. Extracurricular activities will help your child develop into a better-rounded person with a richer base of experiences to draw on. There are a number of activities you can consider:
    • Athletics.
    • Debate club, school newspaper, Model United Nations, and similar clubs.
    • Chorus or band.[12]
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    Balance your child’s academic life and kid-life. An important part of nurturing your child’s intelligence is to help create a balanced life for your child. This is because down-time and play-time are important for all children and for creativity. Consider the following:
    • A child who is overcommitted might be overstressed and develop anxiety.
    • A child who is overcommitted might not be able to realize their potential in any one thing.
    • A child who is overcommitted might lose interest and harbor resentment against overbearing parents.
    • Overcommitting your child might create undue stress on yourself and on your partner.[13]

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Categories: Nurturing Talent