Proud moms and dads yearn for nothing more than to enable their kids to become achievers in their own right. The good news is that there are indeed ways for them to help boost their child’s intelligence and enhance his or her mental development. And contrary to popular belief that these methods are anything but simple, they are actually doable within one’s own home and can be done or facilitated by the parents themselves.
A child care expert at leading health institution Makati Medical Center offers creative tips and suggestions for parents on furthering their child’s mental development.
Feed them right
A good diet is always beneficial—and the same is true for boosting your child’s mental development. “Avoid giving your child too much junk food,” Dr. Veronica Reloza of MakatiMed’s Pediatric Department stresses. “Good, nutritious meals are absolutely vital to a child’s development especially during the early years, as this is the optimal time of brain plasticity. During your child’s early years, make sure to breastfeed your child—it boosts IQ up by 6 points.”
A study conducted by researchers in the University of Bristol showed that toddlers who consumed a diet rich in fats, sugars and processed foods had significantly lower IQs than their healthy-eating peers.
This being said, Dr. Reloza reminds parents to advocate healthy food choices for their kids. “It’s fine to treat children once in a while, but overall, they shouldn’t be eating more junk food and sweets than fruits, vegetables and other healthy items.”
Choose the right activities
There is nothing more enjoyable and creative than child’s play to help further your kids’ mental capacity. However, keep in mind that there are appropriate toys for particular stages of development.
She recommends using toy blocks and other construction toys for toddlers. “These types of toys allow for the development of your child’s motor skills, hand-eye coordination, social skills and creative problem-solving skills,” she says. “Sit down with your child and challenge him or her with different building tasks, or do a role-playing game with it—this makes learning fun and memorable.”
For older kids, she suggests getting educational board games and videos that promote various cognitive skills. “The right selection of games and visual tools help kids gain skills in taking on more complex tasks, as well as encourage the development of problem-solving and decision-making skills.”
Make it musical
You may already have heard that music helps stimulate a child’s intelligence.
Enrolling your kids in music lessons, she says, would be a good idea whether it’s piano, guitar, drums or the flute. Apart from honing your child’s intelligence, you are also giving them a creative window to explore their musical gifting and possibly discover a permanent hobby that they can enjoy. It also boosts self-confidence. In many ways, listening to music and moving to it together also strengthens your bond.
Dr. Reloza concludes that the parent’s role in furthering a child’s intelligence is crucial. During the first few years of your child’s life, you have an amazing window of opportunity to help explore his or her interests and hone his or her cognitive skills. Make the most out of this time and join your child in discovering his or her potential so that you can give him or her appropriate encouragement and support. Lastly, enjoy this time with your child. There is nothing more uplifting than seeing your child smile, and witnessing his or her success.