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A smart kid is a learning kid

In a nutshell, here are the most important parenting tips on raising your child to help him (or her) grow smart and stimulate his intellectual growth:

1.  Give your child an early start – According to the study by Ronald Ferguson, director of the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University, giving your child a head start in learning should “start in the crib”. He recommends the following activities to support early childhood development: maximizing loving responsiveness and minimizing stress, talking, singing and gesturing a lot, using number games and rhythm, enabling and encouraging three-dimensional competencies, and cultivating a love of learning.

2.  Read books to your kid – Start reading to him even if he does not understand the words.  This gives him a head start in developing language skills.  Kids who are read to when young are more likely to develop a lifelong interest in reading, do well in school, and succeed in adult life.  Reading books is one of the most important activity that make kids smart.

3.  Talk to your kid – This develops your child’s strong language skills.  Also, listen to your child when he’s talking.  This reinforces his effort to communicate and develops his facility for language.

4.  Interact with your kid, play with him (her), and make him feel loved – Scientists observed that babies who were not cuddled, played with and loved have stunted brain growth.  They also observed that babies who were not held and did not receive attention failed to grow, became depressed, and eventually died.   On the other hand, many studies have shown that loving, hugging, interacting and playing with your child has a strong effect on developing his intelligence.  The loving connection formed between you and your kid and your one-on-one interaction with him provide the foundation for his higher thinking skills. 

5.  Make your child a readerThe love for reading brings so many benefits for your child. It is one of the most important quality you can develop on your child for him to grow up smart. Reading develops your child's appetite for knowledge. The more your child learns from reading, the more he wants to know. By being a reader early in life, your child is well-prepared to grasp the complexities of mathematics, science, history, engineering, mechanics, political science,and other knowledge necessary for a productive life.

6.  Let your kid play – When your kid plays, he is creating the foundation for his intellectual, social, physical and emotional skills. When he plays with other kids, he learns to combine ideas, impressions and feelings with other kids’ experiences and opinions. 

7.  Encourage your kid to exercise - Physical exercise does not only make your kid strong, but it also makes your kid smart!  Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain and builds new brain cells.  Exercise is good for adults' mental sharpness, but it has a more long-lasting effect on your kid’s still developing brain. See more benefits of exercise on children's brain

8.   Make music a part of your child’s life – Studies have shown that listening to music can boost memory, attention, motivation and learning.  It can also lower stress that is destructive to your kid’s brain.  Learning to play a musical instrument has an effect on the brain’s proportional thinking and spatial temporal reasoning that lay the foundation for abstract math.

9.  Let your child see you doing smart things - Kids learn by modeling adult’s behavior.  If he sees you engaged in reading books, writing, making music, or doing creative things, he will imitate you, and in the process make himself smart.

10.  Limit your kid’s TV viewing – Your child should not be watching TV before age 2.  Letting your kid watch too much TV takes him away from doing activities that are more important to his developing brain, like playing, socializing and reading books.

11.  Give your kid smart computer games -   The best kid-friendly computer games teach your kid about letters, math, music, phonics and many others.  It also develops his hand-eye coordination and prepares him for tomorrow’s technology.  More importantly, he learns these while he plays.  Learning and having fun at the same time is the best way for your kid to learn. See also the positive and negative effects of video games

12.  Allow your child to get bored - According to Julia Robinson, Education and Training Director of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, it is okay for you child to get bored. Learning to be bored is part of preparing for adulthood. Your child should learn to enjoy "quiet reflection" instead of forcing him to fill his days with activities.

13.  Allow your child to take risks and fail – Kids who don’t take risk and experience failure or pain like falling off a bike or losing in competitions can develop low self-esteem and phobias, discourage creativity and learning for themselves. Also, do not rescue kids too quickly. Let them solve problems on their own so they learn from their experience.

14.  Feed your kid right - Giving the right food to your kid is important to making him smart.  Giving your baby the proper nutrition should begin while you are pregnant.  For an older kid, a protein-rich diet (egg, fish, meat) improves his attention, alertness, and thinking.  Carbohydrates give his brain the fuel that is used in thinking.  The best ones are those that come from whole grain and fruits.  Processed carbohydrates and sugar have bad effects on attention span, focusing ability, and activity level.  Vitamins and minerals are also important.

15.  Make sure your child gets enough sleep – A number of studies show a correlation in the amount of sleep and grades. If continued long enough, sleep issues can cause permanent problems.

16.  Help your kid to develop grit. - Grit is the disposition to pursue long term goals with hard work, perseverance and stamina. Having grit is said to make the difference between a high achiever and an unsuccessful person, and is more important for success than innate talent or intelligence. One way to teach your child about grit is to share with him the disappointments and frustrations that you have experienced.

17.  Praise your child for hard work, instead of “being smart” – Praising your child for effort help your child see himself as being in control of his success. Praising your child for “being smart” may discourage him from doing hard tasks because failing may conflict with his self-image of “being smart”. Also, praise intermittently so your child’s persistence is not based only on rewards like praise.

18.  Give your child a growth mindset – According to psychiatrist Joe Brewster, kids should be encouraged to see learning as the process of becoming better at something, instead of having a fixed mind-set of his intelligence. When your child fails, he should see it as an opportunity for growth, instead of seeing himself as a failure.

19.  Avoid coddling your child - if you want him to be a leader, according to leadership expert Tim Elmore. Also, give him projects that require patience, so he learns to master certain disciplines. Find more tips in this Forbes article.

20.  Use bribery as part of your parental toolkit – Experts say that it is okay to bribe your child to motivate her, like “paying” for getting good grades or doing chores. You can ask your child what she prefers as an incentive. Sometimes, money or material items are not that important to her, compared to video game time, for example. Bribery should not be used, however, to control your kid or to make her stop an unacceptable behavior.

21.  Consider giving your child more time engaging in open-ended, free-flowing activities instead of forcing him into a schedule. According to a study by doctoral and undergraduate researchers at University of Colorado, Boulder, children who have less-structured time display higher levels of executive functioning, and vice versa. According to Yuko Munakata, the study’s lead researcher, “Executive function helps [children] in all kinds of ways throughout their daily lives, from flexibly switching between different activities rather than getting stuck on one thing, to stopping themselves from yelling when angry, to delaying gratification. Executive function during childhood predict important outcomes, like academic performance, health, wealth, and criminality, years and even decades.”

22.  Don’t micromanage your child – or constantly correct her. Let her discover things for herself to nurture her creative and innovative thinking.

23.  Get your kid involved in the kitchen. It will not only teach him how to cook, it will also enhance his math and motor skills.

24.  Dads who help out at home raise daughters who select from a broader range of career options than daughters of families in which chores are not equitably shared, a study suggests.

See also tips on:

How to raise a smart baby

How to raise a smart toddler

How to raise a smart preschooler

How to raise a smart school kid

How to raise a smart teenager

General tips on how to raise an intelligent child

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