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Busting The Myths: What Makes A Child Smart And What Doesn’t

Ireyimika Oyegbami

In recent times, focus has shifted to the smart brains. We are encouraged to work smarter and also to have smart kids! It is therefore not surprising that a lot has been said about what makes a child smart. In a study reported by SmartParenting, experts around the world looked at what really makes a kid smart and what is but a myth.

• A wider forehead or bigger head does not equal brains.

“A bigger head doesn’t necessarily mean a bigger brain. And having a bigger brain doesn’t make you smarter” says Diane Bales, an American human development specialist. She further pointed out that the Dolphins’ larger brains do not mean they are more intelligent than humans. She further said, “Rat brains have more cells per cubic inch. Humans are more intelligent because our brains have been fine-tuned to be more efficient.”

READ ALSO:8 Ways To Help Your Child Excel At School (Part Two)

Sorry, but It has nothing to do with Mozart.

Recent studies in the field of developmental psychology have shown that children’s brains develop through multi-sensory stimulation which may include, not just classical music, but any type of music.
Thus, while listening to Mozart is not bad at all, you could just as well sing lullabies, or play any other type of music for your little one.

Nor with drinking Milk.

Perhaps it is true that some exceptional children used milk to augment their brain development, however, not all who drank the same milk became smart. Most of the nutrients found in milk formulas are good for the child’s brain and body, brain development doesn’t happen by drinking milk alone. Mariel Labayen says, “Learning happens when we provide children with rich educational experiences and expose them to different challenges and first-hand learning. But if a child is happy with the milk he drinks or the food he eats, he has a better disposition in life. And if they are happy and content, kids can better appreciate things around them.”

It is all about their experiences!

Results from studies draw attention to the fact that early experience is very important in brain development. Diane Bale says, “The baby’s day-to-day experiences help decide how her brain cells will connect to each other. And if the baby does not have certain kinds of experiences, some areas of the brain will not make the necessary connections.”

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Baby did not acquire brainpower while in the womb but….

It is not true that whatever happened before birth affects learning although poor nutrition and exposure to drugs and alcohol can lead to serious problems in brain development even before birth. A developing fetus needs adequate nutrition to develop properly. If the fetus does not receive enough folic acid early in development, certain neural birth defects can occur. Diane Bale says, “A fetus exposed to alcohol or other drugs before birth may not develop normally. If the mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the baby is at risk for developing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Babies with FAS tend to have heart problems and be hyperactive. And most FAS babies have below-normal intelligence.”

The brain grows progressively across childhood.

The human brain does not grow in a progressive form across childhood; it actually develops in spurts. There are “prime periods” when the brain is best equipped to learn certain skills. For example babies and young children learn languages more easily than adults because their brains are still developing language connections.

It’s not just purchasing expensive toys.

Although expensive toys that seem to give children an intellectual advantage have collected endorsements from various prestigious sources, however, interviews with those organizations would reveal that such products are recommended because children like them and parents trust them for safety. But there are not likely to increase intelligence, even according to those who gave the thumbs up. Diane Bale concludes,

“What children need most are loving care and new experiences; But these experiences don’t need to be expensive. Talk and sing to your baby. Go on a daily walk and point out some of the things you see. Visit the library and pick out a book on a new topic. Sharing time with your child and exposing him to new things goes a long way toward helping his brain develop.”

READ ALSO:8 Ways To Help Your Child Excel At School (Part One)

In ensuring the that our kids make the cut of children with high IQ, we should be smart enough to shower loving care on them; spend quality time with them and also provide avenues for them to gain new knowledge.

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