Oh…dear parents…raising a genius. Either the next Einstein or Beethoven, we would love to raise a super-smart kid. But how? Several historical figures are known to have had an unconventional upbringing, but many others, nothing special really… so how do we do this?
The advantage of living in our times is that now we have the capacity to collect data, conduct studies and correlate actions with results. Therefore, there are actions we can perform, and advice we can follow in order to give our children the best chances of becoming very smart. In fact, if you think about it, these advices can bring in you memories of your own somehow intellectually limited childhood. So, here we go:
- Explore new things and go on adventures. Nowadays kids are caged inside apartments and chained to the TV screens – metaphorically speaking. They should explore nature, mountains, rivers, sea, rocks, mud, snow, rain, and so forth. By touching, seeing, smelling, tasting they get to perceive the surroundings, and their imagination is set free.
- Encourage choices. Start simple by offering your baby two choices, as the younger they are, the easier they can get overwhelmed. Then, with time increase the number of choices, options on what to eat, what to wear, what to play with, and so on.
- Use open-ended answers and ask open-ended questions. Instead of using: Do you like this? Do you want this? Do you agree with this? Use: How do you find this taste? Why do you prefer this over this? What do you mean by that?
- Get reading. Start reading at an early age. She/he is probably not yet able to memorize letters but storytelling, imitating different sounds, following colorful events on the pages of a book will ignite her fantasy.
- Use math as often as you can from an early age. Start counting everything 1 spoon, 2 candies, 3 bears. Then, with time start trading with her: if you eat 3 cauliflowers, you can have a chocolate.
- Keep eye contact. It is important to pay attention to your child especially when you are talking to her, but also when she plays alone. Put your phone aside and admire her play. Your kid needs to be seen and important.
- React to achievements but don’t overreact in joy. There is a gradient of reaction that should respond to the level of difficulty and usefulness of your child’s achievement. If you scream with joy when your kid grabs a toy from a high table, then where do you go from there? How are you going to react when he is capable of feeding himself with a spoon? Practice simply nodding, saying ’good job’, signing ‘ok’, simply smiling, etc. So try to match your reaction accordingly.
- Keep technology away. The later you introduce technology to your kids’ life, the longer his exploration phase will last. Instead of being a consumer of everything, encourage him to make things with his own hands. Programmed, interactive time TV time can also be beneficial, but absolutely not the main source of entertainment or knowledge. Although it is a low hassle form of entertainment, unfortunately, several studies show that in fact not much is absorbed in the level of knowledge or skills. Kids learn much faster and effectively by doing things rather than by seeing things.
- Encourage them to take intellectual risks, and get comfortable with failure. Your child should understand that it is ok to fail and that an experience just teaches him one way how shouldn’t do things. He should see everything as a learning process. Winning doesn’t matter. Learning matters.
- Surround your family with smart people. Like it or not ‘Birds of the same feathers flock together. It is important to surround yourself with educated people so that conversations are done on challenging topics and you all are encouraged to further educate, learn, explore.
- Don’t push your own interests on him. Rather scan for what he is interested in and nourish those interests. Unfortunately, many parents try to raise minis of themselves and giving them opportunities they lacked themselves. Did you dream to become a famous pianist? It is good to encourage your kids to explore musical instruments, even if you yourself didn’t have a particular interest. But if they don’t seem to be that much into it, let go.
- Cooperate with teachers to adapt to your kid’s needs. Talk with them to better understand what further courses, initiatives, or tools would nourish his interests. Maybe they have noticed a particular interest in him, you weren’t able to detect at home.
- Praise effort, not ability. Praise that he really tried hard, not that he did win something like a competition. Make him understand the importance of growing and that even if he didn’t get the first place, he learned a lot in the process. He might win next time, or that this experience introduced him to something new to explore that could be his next milestone.
- Avoid calling him smart, genius, or gifted at all costs. It can be an emotional burden. Many parents hurry to call their kids smart or geniuses, while it is probably not the case and they are biased. Or even if they indeed are smarter than the average for their age, it is in fact a meaningless statement that could hurt them. Labels may create social problems for him and an emotional burden to live up to the label. Kids shouldn’t try to be geniuses. We simply need to focus on creating a developing environment for them that encourages exploring, discovery, learning, and fearlessly make mistakes they can learn from.
How about you. Do you think you are raising a genius? Tell us in the comments below.