Making Your Child Smarter: How to Measure and Develop Intelligence in Kids
Here’s what you need to know about a child’s intelligence and a few ways to help boost their mental ability.
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How can you really tell if a child is intelligent? What are the ways to measure this? Can you do it on your own at home or do you need an expert opinion? These are some concerns that usually come across any parent’s mind. You might also wonder about the nature vs. nurture aspects of a child’s intelligence. Do they need to be born with outstanding genes, or are there ways to help them reach their full potential?
First, let’s consider this definition of intelligence: “the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations” (Merriam-Webster). In other words, it’s all about harnessing skills or applying knowledge in everyday life. The technical aspect of “intelligence” is the tests used to measure it.
How is a child’s intelligence measured?
One of the most well-known concepts when it comes to intelligence is IQ, which stands for Intelligence Quotient. According to Mensa International (the high-IQ society), “IQ is a type of standard score that indicates how far above, or how far below, his/her peer group an individual stands in mental ability.” The average score is an IQ of 100, and scoring higher means that you’re more intelligent than others in the same socioeconomic strata.
An older measure of intelligence is the mental quotient, where a child’s mental age is divided by the chronological age. For example, a three-year-old (chronological age) can have the chronological age of a four-year-old (mental age). If you multiply the quotient by 100, you get the child’s IQ. In the mentioned example, the MQ is 1.33, so the IQ would be 133, which indicates an advanced level. Only about 2% of the general population has such IQ scores, according to Mensa.
There are many other definitions and measures of intelligence, but IQ is the universally-accepted standard. However, it’s only recommended for children aged 6 and older. Alternatives can be done if you seriously want to know their level of mental ability. For instance, Verywell Family cites the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) as “one of the leading tests for intelligence used among children ages 2 years 6 months to 7 years 7 months.”
Aside from tests, how can I tell if my child is a prodigy or an advanced learner?
Consulting an expert in pediatric development is ideal if you really want to test a child’s intelligence. Before that though, there are some signs you might observe as early as a child’s toddler years. According to Mensa International, the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world, there are a couple of tell-tale signs that your child can be a prodigy. These include the following:
● An unusual memory
● Passing intellectual milestones early
● Reading early
● Intolerance of other children
● Prefers to spend time with adults or in solitary pursuits
● Loves to talk
● Asks questions all the time
● Learns easily
● Developed sense of humor
● Makes up additional rules for games
If your child is in preschool age (3+), you might definitely observe some of these. Even though they’re not an advanced learner, these traits can also indicate how intelligent children are. And if on the flip side, you’re concerned about delays in their development, you can consult a specialist.
How can I help my child become more intelligent?
By the time children reach their fifth year, the brain is already 90% developed. That's why tips and activities that can help boost the development and intelligence of children, combined with the right brain nutrition, are very important in this period of development. Some of the tips that experts recommend are:
1. Reading and speaking with your child
The keyword here is “with,” which means you need to go beyond just reading “to” your child or speaking “to” them. Especially during their preschool years, get them actively involved during reading sessions. Ask them questions and wait for their reactions. Encourage them to speak, too, by giving them your undivided attention and actively listening when they talk.
2. Encourage educational playtime through games, toys, and music
Provide stimulating activities like counting games and puzzles for preschoolers. These will help develop their cognitive skills. If there’s an opportunity to play with peers of the same age, grab it. Kids tend to learn more when they’re among peers and develop their social skills, as well.
3. Taking a walk outdoors and exploring natural sights, smells, and sounds
Stimulate a child’s senses by exposing them to different environments. A simple walk around your neighborhood can be an opportunity to learn the names and functions of random things or people. Taking a trip to the beach or to different locations can have a similar effect. Another thing to consider is physical fitness. TIME.com cites studies that say, “Being in good shape increases your ability to learn. After exercise people pick up new vocabulary words 20% faster.”
4. Taking their lead and not pressuring them into learning anything
You might think that diligently teaching them about letters, numbers, reading, and math might help. However, forcing them to learn could be counterproductive. You shouldn’t feel like these learning activities are a chore. You shouldn’t pressure them to achieve milestones right away, too. Rather, they’re a chance to maximize your time with your child.
Lastly, you need to take care of their basic needs, too. Any science-backed resource would tell you that you have to nourish the body in order to effectively feed the mind. So be particular with what your kid eats and drinks and how much rest he or she is getting. Make sure that you help in their development by ensuring they’re physically healthy and ready to learn.
• Bainbridge, C. (2021, August 30). Can parents determine if their child is gifted as an infant? Verywell Family. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/at-what-age-does-giftedness-appear-14491…
• Barker, E. (2014, March 4). How to make your kids smarter: 10 steps backed by science. Time. Retrieved from https://time.com/12086/how-to-make-your-kids-smarter-10-steps-backed-by…
• Brain science proves the value of early learning. Goodstart Early Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.goodstart.org.au/news-and-advice/october-2017/brain-science…
• Gifted children - a checklist for parents. Gifted Children - a checklist for parents | British Mensa. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mensa.org.uk/gifted-talented/gifted-children-checklist-pare…
• Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Intelligence definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/intelligence
• Traits of giftedness. Traits of Giftedness | National Association for Gifted Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/my-child-gifted/c…
• What is IQ. Mensa International. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.mensa.org/iq/what-iq
About The Writer
Ginyn Noble Cadavillo
Ginyn Noble Cadavillo has been a coffee-dependent work-from-home mom since 2019. She’s been in the content marketing space for almost a decade with roots in SEO writing and native advertising.
Her day job at Balsam Brands is all about Christmas tree content, while her side gigs cover Korean entertainment, lifestyle, and parenting. You’ll see most of her work published in Cosmopolitan Philippines, South China Morning Post, and Smart Parenting. Her hobbies include baking, creating vlogs, and DIYs, while favorite roles in life are being a wife to her nampyeon and eomma to her son.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.