How To Raise Smart Kids: 11 Steps Backed By Science

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Is intelligence inherited or acquired? 

Scientists have been trying to answer this question for the longest time. Whilst we are only beginning to scratch the surface in our understanding of how intelligence works, here is the bit that we know… 

A child’s intelligence can be influenced by many factors. Our genes provide the blueprint and set the limit. The environment determines where within those limits, your child develops. 

So what does science say we can do to help our children reach their maximum intelligence potential?

We curated a list of 11 things. Let’s take a look at some of them. 


1) Music Lessons

Musical proficiency is often considered to be one of the signs of an intelligent child. But you can also make a child smarter by training them. The research is clear on this and consistent across geography and races. Children who are exposed and allowed to explore music at a young age grow up smarter than those who don’t. So, it’s a good idea to gently nudge your kids to learn an instrument of their choice!

2) Make Sure They Exercise Regularly

You are forgiven if you think kids don’t need exercise as they are already so active. But that would be wrong. Kids need to exercise just as much as adults do. In fact, it could be key to your child’s intelligence development. Exercise is a proven method of increasing a person’s ability to learn. It promotes the growth of new cells in the brain by boosting blood flow. A 3-month exercise regime has been found to improve your kid’s learning by as much as 30%. This is a significant improvement by any measure so start planning regularly exercise time into your child's schedule!

3) Read With Your Kids

Many parents already read books to their kids. While this is great, there is another way you can approach this activity that will help make your kids smarter. Read along with your kid instead of letting them just stare at the pictures! Encourage them to read the text and make sense of the words, and where they need help, you can step in. Pointing to the words while you read also helps them maintain visual and spatial focus

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4) Make Sure They Get Enough Sleep

We all know the role of sleep in our lives. A good night’s sleep is essential for us to feel energized and refreshed. But did you know that it might also help improve our intelligence? This is especially true of kids. Research studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between grades and sleep time that kids get. Other research has also shown a direct correlation between sleep and memory retention and consolidation. So, if you’ve ever wondered, why your parents have been so strict with your bedtime when you were a child, now you know!



5) Inculcate The Values of Self-Discipline

Although talents, abilities, and inherent intelligence are great factors in determining the success of kids, there is another one that may be equally important. Self-discipline can help anybody (not just kids) overcome challenges in their path and become successful in life. It doesn’t matter if they have the in-built talent for it or not. So, if you instill the values of self-discipline in your kid, he or she will be more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and do well in life. This is what is mentioned in Charles Duhigg’s excellent book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.


6) Make Learning An Active Process

Many of us have lived through it but look… learning should not be a passive process. There are too many cases where children are encouraged to memorize their textbooks and write from memory instead of understanding and applying principles. This doesn’t make them smarter. This only makes them memorizing machines. 

If you are really concerned about how to raise smart kids, you should make learning an active process for them. Dan Coyle, the author of The Talent Code, states that we should apply the rule of two thirds. For instance, if your kid is trying to learn a passage, make sure they spend only one-third of their time reading it and two-thirds of their time testing themselves on it.

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7) Make Use of Treats

The secret to raising smart kids might be in how you use treats. If used at the right time, kids’ favorites like soda and candy can actually boost their cognitive performance. Research says that caffeine and glucose can have favorable effects on the brain’s performance. And since these are things that kids generally like already, it could be a good to use these treats as a motivator for your children to study even harder.

8) Focus On Making Your Kids Happier

Many research studies have found that happier people are more successful than those that are grumpy all the time. Indeed, if you’re a happy person, you will be less fazed by challenges and your focus will be on opportunities instead of obstacles. Help your child to be happy and healthy and chances are, they will grow up smart as well!


9) Pay Attention To Kids’ Peer Groups

The law of averages says that the result of any given situation will be the average of all outcomes. This law can be applied to human relationships as well. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So, your kids’ peer groups can also influence how they grow and develop as individuals. In fact, this was shown to be true in a study conducted by Dartmouth College. In the study, it was found that when students with lower grades began rooming with students who scored better, their average grades improved.

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10) Believe In Your Kids

This is something that we have all experienced. When someone believes in us, it positively impacts our psychological state and pushes us to do better. This applies to children as well. There is a famous study that showed this to be true. It’s so popular that it even has a name – The Pygmalion Effect. In it, researchers showed that positive expectations influence performance positively. So, believe in your kid even though they can be prone to doing silly things. Your expectations (and how you treat your children thereafter) can have an impact on their intelligence development.

11) Learn A New Language With Them

This can be a fun little activity for both you and your child. Multiple studies have shown that those who speak two languages or more have more gray matter in their brains than those who only speak one language. Gray matter, as we now know, plays an important role in sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. There are many apps and online classes that you can take with your child together to learn a new language so start them while they are young!

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