kids iqIt’s not uncommon for doting parents to mark every developmental milestone of their young children. Often, they look for indications their child is somehow gifted — that he or she will have extraordinary qualities to share with the world. What those parents may not realize is that very attentiveness may actually increase the odds of their children achieving more in life.

Is a child’s IQ more about nurture or nature?

A report published in Science this summer has shed additional light on the nature vs. nurture debate when it comes to intelligence. The study found that oldest children in a family have the highest IQ among siblings, outdistancing second-born children by three points on average.

What is IQ?

IQ, or intelligence quotient, primarily measures mathematical and spatial reasoning, logical ability and language understanding. Though a three-point difference may not sound like much, its cumulative effect can be big. It can mean the difference between a low A and a high B grade average and the difference between admission to an elite, private university and a less exclusive public college. IQ also correlates with job performance and income and even morbidity and mortality.

Experts say nurture has the biggest impact

Whatever the gap, experts chalk it up to nurturing. Older children are also only children for at least a little while, garnering more of their parents’ undivided attention; their parents tend to carry higher expectations of them; and they often tutor (intentionally or unintentionally) their younger siblings.

Certainly, heredity plays a part in IQ, but there’s not much parents can do about that once a child is born. Their best bet is to focus on what they can control, and that’s nurturing their child.

Here are some ways to help your child increase their IQ?

  • Talk — Reading daily to your children from a variety of books will increase their vocabulary and instill a love for books and learning. Also, resist the urge to dumb down your language when talking with your children. They learn language from you, and the more words you use, the more words they’ll learn.
  • Games — Games are a great tool for boosting IQ, increasing a child’s attention span, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Play games that focus on strategy and require your child to think.  Chess and checkers can be especially effective because no two rounds are alike and both require players to look at a situation from a variety of angles, revealing a number of ways to solve a problem.
  • Music — Help your child develop an interest in music. Whether through an instrument or singing, music has been demonstrated to increase spatial IQ by nearly 50 percent. Additionally, students with course work or experience in music performance scored an average of 52 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 36 points higher on the math portion than their counterparts with no music background.
  • Food — Research has shown that a healthier diet leads to a healthier brain. Feed your children plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, along with lean meat in moderation. As much as possible avoid highly processed foods and simple carbohydrates.
  • Engage — The single biggest step you can take to boost your children’s IQs is to love them. Hold, cuddle and hug your children. Talk and sing to them. Take them places and give them new experiences that will stimulate their senses. Don’t hesitate to let your children try things that may seem beyond their years. Children who feel loved and attached have the best of all gifts to share.

IQ tests are no longer administered routinely in public schools, but they are used when learning problems are detected.  Parents who want to know their children’s IQ can get a glimpse from a number of online tests or a more accurate assessment through a psychologist.