From the time of conception, parents employ different methods and techniques to boost their child’s development, especially cognitive development, which is believed to react to stimulus even as early as in utero. What the mother eats, the music she listens to, what she reads to her child while he is in her womb, all contribute to the child’s development.
It seems though that more factors besides genetics and in utero stimulation play a role in shaping your child’s intellectual capacity. According to a study by economist Kasey Buckles from Notre Dame University, siblings spaced at least two years apart are smarter than those born closer to each other. The elder siblings, on average, got higher grades in reading in math than their younger siblings. The findings were only applicable to the older siblings, and not in the younger ones.
Why is this so? Experts believe it’s because of the the older sibling receiving more time and attention from their parents. The researchers also noted that higher socioeconomic status allowed parents who could not devote as much time and attention to their children to invest in quality daycare as a way to compensate for the lack.
Buckles points out, "There are only so many hours in the day, and the longer that period can be when a child is the only child, the greater the investment they are going to receive.”
The researchers studied 12,686 participants between the ages of 14 and 22, as well as their children, to determine if spacing had any effect on their grades in school. They also looked at a sample of 3,000 women who gave birth to 5,000 pairs, and discovered that the children of those who suffered miscarriages, the spacing of which extended, got higher marks in tests.
Said Buckles, "There's a lot of conventional wisdom out there about what is best, but there's not a lot of actual evidence about what is good for either parents or children. This is a first piece of evidence that suggests a benefit to increasing the spacing between the siblings."
Do/did you practice child spacing? Do you believe spacing has an influence on your child’s intelligence? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to leave a comment below.
• November 17, 2011. Matthew Philips. “Want Smarter Kids? Space Them (At Least) Two Years Apart” freakonomics.com
• “Want smarter children? Space siblings at least two years apart” scienceblog.com
• November 21, 2011. Bonnie Rochman. “Spacing Siblings At Least Two Years Apart Makes Kids Smarter” healthland.time.com
Photo by Kelly Sue via flickr creative commons