Intelligence: How do we enhance intelligence?

Part I – Parents

While heredity does factor into a child’s intelligence by way of neurological efficiency, a parent’s influence on their child’s intelligence does not stop there. Here are some things parents can do to enhance their child’s intelligence:

  • Provide proper nutrition. Malnutrition in the early years can have long term effects on development which can affect intelligence. Good nutrition also helps keep children healthy which leads us to the next item.
  • Send your child to school. Children who attend school regularly consistently have higher I.Q. test scores than those who start later or have poor attendance.
  • Avoid toxic substances. Use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs can adversely affect neurological development.
  • Provide a stimulating environment. Read to your child frequently, engage them in lively conversations, encourage them to develop new skills.
  • Early intervention. Parents living in lower socio-economic conditions or impoverished neighborhoods should consider sending their child to a preschool which offers plenty of physical, socio-emotional and educational support.

Part II- Teachers

It is true that a child’s parents are his first teacher however, teachers and educators in the classroom or school environment can also have a major impact on a child’s intelligence.  Some children are at one end of the intelligence continuum or the other . . . gifted or having an intellectual disability. In all cases, educators can support cognitive development and intelligence in a variety of ways:

  • Watch for unusual abilities or delays.
  • Individualize instruction to promote strengths and develop areas of weakness.
  • Pair children with similar interests or abilities. Children tend to develop more advanced skills when working together.
  • Encourage children to set high, but achievable goals. Children of all abilities should be inspired to stretch to find their true potential.
  • Let children display their knowledge in creative ways. Children may choose to write a poem, paint a picture or use some other gift or talent to present their knowledge.

Source: McDevitt, Teresa M. and Jeanne Ellis Ormrod. Child Development and Education. Pearson, 2016

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