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How to Make Your Kid Smarter, According to Science
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  • When you become a parent, you realize that most everything you do is centered around your family — your spouse, your kids — and that all your efforts, directly or indirectly, are geared towards giving them the very best. We want them to be happy, be healthy, be knowledgeable. The first — being happy — is usually the result of the other two. And while we probably know already how to raise a healthy child, it’s still a puzzle to many how to raise kids to be smart. Well, science has the answer.

    How to make your kids smart, according to science

    1. Enroll them in music lessons.

    True, music soothes the soul. But it also does wondrous things to the mind. According to this study, “musicians’ brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful.” A child who grows up listening to and making music is a creative and confident child. Music also improves memory (useful for academics) and helps him develop emotional intelligence at a young age.

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    2. Instead of reading to your kids, read with them.

    Reading books to your child has always been a highly-encouraged activity that can truly strengthen the parent-child bond. However, reading with your child instead of to him takes it up several notches higher. This study shows that “when shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of children’s reading skills and strategies, then shared book reading is an effective vehicle for promoting the early literacy ability even of disadvantaged children.” 

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    Speech language therapist Anthony D. Koutsoftas, Ph.D. stressed the importance of having your kids interact with you while you read to them in an article on SmartParenting.com.ph. “I think it’s important to let kids have a dialogue with you even if it doesn’t seem to be about the book. When the kid points to a book and says, ‘Oh, that red balloon looks like my red truck,’ they are connecting it to what they know. They are learning how to be inquisitive when they ask questions,” he explained.

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    3. Make them understand the importance of getting enough sleep.

    Sleep is not only a time for the body to recharge, it also plays a major role in how the brain learns, remembers, and stores information. In a study published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, which was participated in by 4,500 kids ages 8 to 11, the kids who slept for the recommended nine to 11 hours during the night (and who had no more than two hours of screen time) scored higher on standard tests compared to those who didn’t. 

    In another study, the lead researcher said, “If a child is having irregular bedtimes at a young age, they’re not synthesizing all the information around them at that age, and they’ve got a harder job to do when they are older. It sets them off on a more difficult path.”

    4. Instill in them self-discipline.

    In his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg writes, “Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent,” referring to a 2005 study of 164 grade 8 students. 

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    A 2015 study published in Psychological Science journal found that children with higher self-control are more likely to find and retain jobs as adults. They can better set goals, solve problems, and control impulses.

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    5. Believe in your children.

    Your child gets his confidence from you, and knowing someone supports him makes all the difference. This is explained in the Pygmalion effect, a phenomenon where people’s expectations of a person affects that person’s performance. As proven by a study led by Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson in 1968, “if teachers were led to expect enhanced performance from children, then the children’s performance was enhanced. This study supported the hypothesis that reality can be positively or negatively influenced by the expectations of others.”

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