Most parents want to raise smart kids, and not just because the alternatives make the whole family look stupid. Higher levels of intelligence have been linked with greater happiness, success, and longevity. Moms and dads don’t have to care about Ivy League schools to care about their kids’ IQs, they just have to care about them leading happy and healthy lives. Here’s how you can turn your kids into geniuses:
Encourage Them To Get Physical
Your kids don’t have to be star athletes, but physical activity can increase their ability to learn. One study found that running increased students’ abilities to learn new vocabulary words by 20 percent, and a review of more than 100 studies found that physical activity and academic achievement are positively correlated. So there’s no need to choose between jock and nerd—studies suggest they go hand in hand.
Teach Them to Play Music
Voice and keyboard lessons increased children’s IQs more than drama classes, one study found (although drama did increase their adaptive social behavior skills). This might be because the brains of musicians tend to be highly developed in ways that make them more calm, playful, and interested in learning, additional data indicates. The payoffs of playing music don’t stop there. It seems that starting kids on music early in life could slow the cognitive decline that inevitably comes with age.
Feed Them Lots of Fish
Kids who frequently eat fish have higher IQs and fewer sleep problems, studies suggest. One study looked at more than 500 kids and found that fish consumption was linked with fewer sleep problems and higher IQ scores. There’s also limited evidence that mothers who take fish oil supplements while breastfeeding have kids with higher IQ scores at age 4 (in truth, fish oil supplements are probably worthless). Your kid might not love fish at first, but that’s all the more reason to get better at cooking it.
Remember Breakfast (It Actually Is the Most Important Meal of the Day)
Children who eat breakfast every day score significantly higher on IQ tests, according to one study of more than 1,200 six-year-olds. An additional review of more than 30 research papers on the link between school performance and habitual breakfasts confirmed that eating first thing in the morning increases tests scores. Given the aforementioned benefits of fish, try getting your kids to eat lox for breakfast!
There Are No Shortcuts
The best thing you can do for your kid’s brain is to accept that you can’t cut corners with it. Multimedia gimmicks like Baby Einstein, marketed to parents who want to raise smart kids, don’t really work. You can feed your kid all the fish in the world, enroll them in youth sports and demand they practice the piano. But nothing can replace old-fashioned hard work. Developing intelligence is an active and ongoing process that children have tons of potential to take advantage of throughout their development.
As a parent, embracing all the work that comes with that is probably your best bet.