What Makes Kids Intelligent?
Raising Smart Kids
How much stock should we put in those magical IQ numbers?
"I don't think there is much point in trying to assess
children's intelligence unless they seem unusual -- not developing properly or
precocious," Gottfredson says. "People tend to take individual test
scores too seriously."
"A better indicator than IQ score is whether the child is
curious, enjoys role playing and learning, and is happy," says Stephen J.
Schoenthaler, PhD, a professor of nutrition and behavior at California State
University in Long Beach.
But Dickens contends that the one thing that best predicts how
well 14-year-olds will do as adults, in terms of economic and social outcome,
is their IQ score.
Eating smarter for better brain health begins in the womb and
continues with breastfeeding, especially if Mom follows daily recommendations
for vitamins and minerals.
"The real trick is teaching young children to like good
foods when they move from breast milk to whole foods," Schoenthaler tells
WebMD. "Teaching children to try everything and then avoid foods they do
not like for a year or so as taste develops works fine."
Children need five or six daily servings of fruits and
vegetables; five servings of whole grains; two or three servings of meat, fish,
or poultry; and two or three servings of milk. Smaller-than-adult-size portions
will keep children from gaining too much weight. As young children prefer salty
and sweet tastes, mothers can "spice up" vegetables sparingly. Children
should take a vitamin and mineral supplement at the prescribed dose.
"What the Food and Nutrition Board and the World Health
Organization recommend for good health is great for IQ and behavior too,"
In his research, children taking the recommended daily
allowance of vitamin and mineral supplements for three months learned 14
different academic subjects at twice the rate of children given a placebo. In
more than 1 million children given a good breakfast and lunch at school,
academic performance improved by 16%, and 76,000 suddenly were no longer
Build Mental Muscle
"To train young minds, read something together every night.
Stimulate your child's interests and curiosity and encourage the child to play
an instrument," Ingegerd Carlsson, PhD, tells WebMD. She is a psychologist
at Lund University in Sweden, and studies changes in brain function with