Joshua Krisch of Fatherly recently published a Q&A with researcher Deborah Eyre on the subject of raising smart kids — and it is a fascinating read.
The first response that jumps off the page and resonates with me is this one:
What we know is that intelligence isn’t fixed, so people can get cleverer — they’re born “not made”. And what we need to concentrate on is, rather than trying to decide who is and who isn’t gifted, we need to create intelligence. From a parental point of view, we want to help our child be successful.
This is our mission at Magellan — to build the intelligence that is in every child. I’ve been a big advocate of making sure that our children love learning — so that it feels like fun more than work. Magellan has been a big part of that for our own children — making language, music, and math learning fun. Of course, it isn’t fun without purpose or direction. It isn’t aimless fun. It is fun with a purpose:
In one sentence, what does it take for parents to maximize their children’s intelligence?
Make sure you create good opportunities for them to learn, support them in their learning, encourage but don’t push, and try to engage them to be more motivated to achieve. That’s it, in a nutshell.
That sounds about right. When it is fun to learn, to accomplish something — or something new — then our children are self-motivated to learn — and we’re unlocking their potential.
The whole article is full of great, simple advice that you can relate to everyday activities, such as this bit about putting on a coat: “And, because you’re in a hurry, you put your child’s coat on for him or her. They learn that, if I find something difficult, I can find someone else to do it for me. When what you really need, as a parent, is to let them struggle for a minute and see if they can figure it out themselves.”
Finally, there’s a bit at the end, how do you get the most, as a parent, out of your school?
Firstly, support the school. Even if you actually think what they’re doing in school [is wrong], it’s just really important to support the school. Because otherwise your child is in a position where they don’t know who to believe, their family or their school. In terms of what you can do at home to support them, try the kinds of things I’ve been talking about . When they’re doing homework, you can also ask them questions [or say things like] “oh, look at that task you’ve been given. They’re asking you to link things together! We talked about that being important.”
In today’s world we all think we know best when it comes to educating our children, and I think the basic point to take away here is that you get the MOST out of your school when you layer your own perspective and techniques on top of the schools’ perspective — building on it — rather than undermining or conflicting with the school’s approach. For example, I see you’ve learned one approach to solving this problem, can I show you another one that someone taught me once? Not a wrong way, and a right way, but alternatives that can open their minds.
Because, at the end of the day, you want your child going into school every day with their eyes and ears — and minds — open to learn everything they can.