According to psychologists, a child develops 50 percent of his/her intelligence by the age of four, and the most influencing factors are, of course, the environment, the parents interest in his/her education, and the last is stimulation.
Yes, in this book, psychologist, Benjamin Bloom, says that there is a great link between childhood and environment and high IQ. He said that kids are not just born smart or dumb. To a great extent, they grow to be smart or dumb, depending, or course, on the way they are brought up.
This means that by the time the child enters school, their basic intelligence for the most part, is already formed. And they will have a hard time making up for lost opportunities later. Parents therefore have a great responsibility because their children’s ability to learn depends on them.
Victor Cline, in his book, HOW TO MAKE YOUR CHILD A WINNER, says that if there is one most important area that a parent should emphasize in the early stimulation of a child, it is LANGUAGE. Language ability is the best indicator of human intelligence.
Effective language skills, Cline points out, are absolutely necessary for learning other areas of knowledge: math, science, art, and social studies. If a child can not read well or find it hard to understand spoken language he will have difficulty in school and be hampered in absorbing ideas in almost all other subjects. Here are some pointers on improving child’s language skills:
1. ALWAYS TALK – even sing songs to your child from birth on. Engage him/her in plenty of conversation. Practice him to answer all kinds of questions. This will help in developing his vocabulary.
2. READ STORIES TO HIM ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT TIME. This is important to make a child interested in reading at an early age. Choose books/or booklets that have action-information stories – or those kinds that needs imagination like drawing or coloring, pictures equivalent to its words and meanings. Allow him to choose what’s to be read. If you have children’s books like King Arthur’s Stories or Bible Stories, etc – so much the better. Put him/her on your lap or beside you on the bed or on your table so that he can read along with you. Be sure, however, that material you read can be understood by the child.
3. START TEACHING HIM TO READ EVEN BEFORE HE ENTERS GRADE SCHOOL. Jose Rizal, the famous Filipino hero, started to read the cartilla his mother taught him as early as two years of age. Famous educator, Maria Montessori, founder of Montessori schools, maintained that the most sensitive period to learn to read is between four and five years of age. You can start reading to your child by age of 2 years – as soon as he is ready. Of course, some children are not showing any interest at first, but many will show interest as long as it is done for shorter periods and like a game or play time to them. Longer periods bore them.
4. ENROLL YOUR CHILD IN A NURSERY SCHOOL. If you have enough money, you can put your child in a top-quality nursery school. The moderate expense may have more impact on your child’s success than his later and more expensive college education.
OTHER WAYS TO STIMULATE YOUR CHILD’S INTEREST AT HOME.
Children must not only learn at school but also at home. Cline gives other ways to stimulate a child:
- Let your child watch educational programs on TV
- Expose him to other kinds of visual magazines like those that have character building on them – the Bible Stories is one, or HOME LIFE, or Life, National Geographic, or Sports Illustrated – perhaps, these books may not be available for most of our Filipino readers, but you can substitute other kinds of books that are available in your newstands. You can also read them newspapers and magazines – and discuss what the message meant or what the news it all about. You can talk to them in a language they can understand.
- Play vocabulary building games like crossword puzzles, scrabble, boggles or charades.
- Ask your child to write letters to relatives or friends.
- Have a good dictionary – like the Merriam and Webster College Dictionary – and also a good Encyclopedia.
- Train your child in writing legibly and neatly.
- Have a library in the house with books and magazines appropriate for your child’s age and interests. Publications like – Barkada, Pambata, or the Story of Jesus.
THE ROLES OF TOYS AND PLAY
Playthings like toys, baby dolls, electric trains, robots, etc. – help a lot in the child’s mental as well as emotional growth. Victor Cline also states that toys and play things help to stimulate the child’s mental as well as emotional growth as well as mastering his/her environment. Yes, play is also essential to learning. The simplest toys are often the best – as this will stimulate the child’s imagination. Indeed, 15 building blocks of various sizes and shapes provide years of stimulation and enjoyment for the child while an electric robot or train, which a child can only watch, is soon boring. No wonder a child often breaks the robot apart to see why and how it runs – it’s the only fun thing to do with it. Avoid giving toys that encourage violence – like the use of guns, knives, or anything that could wound him.
In playing with toys, the child develops muscle coordination. He develops and improves his perceptual motor skills. He sharpens his vision and learn the names of things. He does experiment and research on all the sensory qualities of the world he lives in – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching everything he can lay his hands on.
Jean Piaget, the best known authority on child development – mature intelligence begin from simple acts like grasping, looking, sensing, and feeling. Piaget says that the more a child has seen and heard, the more he is interested to see and hear. This is when curiosity is developed.