In this competitive day and age any edge that children can develop over their peers can go a long way in ensuring success. Luckily there has been a significant amount of scientific research that has been conducted in the area of child development in the past couple of decades, pointing to a few key factors that can help parents raise smarter kids and ensure their future success.
Not only is regular exercise essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is also scientifically proven to improve brain function in human beings. A 3-month exercise regimen enhanced memory and learning by 30% according to a German research conducted on a group of volunteers in 2007. Another research proved that people’s ability to memorize new vocabulary words improved 20 percent following exercise. Parents need to make exercise a priority in order for the children to reap the physical and intellectual benefits.
The correlation between average amount of sleep and grades has been clearly established through science. Studies have consistently shown that A-grade students tend to sleep on average 15 more minutes than B-grade students, and B-grade students get 15 more minutes than C-grade students. Missing an hour of sleep is equivalent to the loss of two years of cognitive development and maturity, turning a fifth grader’s brain for instance into that of a third grader.
A balanced diet is essential for a child to optimize performance in all avenues of life. The proper nutrition can aid in development of the brain and hence make children smarter. A protein rich diet improves attention span, alertness and thinking capabilities. Carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced diet as they supply the fuel required by the brain for the thinking process, the best ones coming from whole grain and fruits. Processed carbohydrates and sugar, however, have an adverse effect on focusing abilities, and are hence best avoided.
Studies show that self-discipline is a more accurate predictor of academic performance than IQ. Highly self-disciplined adolescents tend to outperform their more impulsive peers on every academic performance variable. Children that have higher will power spend more time doing their homework and have better attendance, resulting in higher grades and consequentially admission into more selective schools.
The benefits of reading with children cannot be stated adequately enough. Reading with the children (calling attention to details and specific words) versus reading to them, not only enhances the children’s reading skills, but also develops their comprehension and literary analysis abilities. Reading helps children broaden their knowledge base and makes them smarter in the process.
6. Creativity and Arts
Whereas development of language skills and reasoning/logic capabilities exercises and sharpens the left side of the brain, the right side of the brain thrives through exposure to creativity and arts. Children need ample exposure to the different mediums to ensure balanced unilateral brain development. Music, dance or arts are all worthy of exploration for a child to optimize their potential.
7. Active Learning
Real learning isn’t passive, it is active. Children need to be presented with every opportunity possible to make learning a hands-on process. The human brain has evolved to learn through doing things not just hearing about them. This is why a lot of skills are better learnt through application of the said skills (through testing) rather than absorbing them.
8. Believe in Them
A child who believes in his capabilities, presented with the opportunity will rise to the occasion. Parents play a critical role in the development of this level of self-confidence in a child through regular interaction and encouragement of efforts.
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