What Makes Kids Intelligent?
Raising Smart Kids
Build Mental Muscle continued...
However, the "Mozart effect," in which listening to
classical music supposedly improves certain IQ scores, is probably overrated,
says Kenneth M. Steele, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Appalachian
State University in Boone, N.C.
"Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who grow up in homes
where talking, listening, and reading are common tend to have higher IQs and
greater success in school," Frances P. Glascoe, PhD, an adjunct professor
of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in East Berlin, Pa., tells WebMD.
Thomas Darvill, PhD, chairman of psychology at Oswego State
University in New York, recommends a variety of safe toys that are colorful,
noisy, and interesting in shape or texture. Spending more time with your child
in their first year can yield big dividends later, both in terms of
parent-child bonding and enhanced mental growth.
"Kids left alone to sit and watch TV or play video games on
their own won't do as well," Shawn K. Acheson, PhD, assistant professor of
psychology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., tells WebMD.
"Encourage active learning and the exchange of ideas."
As they grow, children need time and freedom to play and
explore, Darvill says. "If your preschooler is playing in the mud or role
playing with you or a peer, he is learning what he needs to learn."
Sports, music, and other activities demanding focused attention
and discipline and stimulate mental development -- but don't force children to
adopt your own interests. "Just because Dad enjoyed hockey as a child
doesn't guarantee that his own children will," Darvill says.
Each child's interests and learning strategies are unique,
Gottfredson agrees. To develop intelligence, we must not neglect ambition,
courage, and conscientiousness, which are equally important for success. We
mustn't forget to teach children how to learn.
"Few people work to their potential, or even realize what
it is," she says. "Encourage children to develop the attitudes and
tools for making the best use of their minds."
Robert J. Sternberg, PhD, is director of the PACE Center and
IBM professor of psychology and education at Yale University. "If we take
into account how children think, we can improve their achievement,"
Sternberg tells WebMD. "If we teach in a way that is relevant to children's
abilities, we get much better results."