Everybody has an opinion on how you should raise your child. You think back to those moments when you curled your lips with distaste at some badly behaved kid and wonder where to draw the line between being a doting parent and spoiling your kid. You want to raise a well-rounded child who is an all rounder but all the details you carefully filed at the back of mind over the years might suddenly become difficult to implement. Here are 9 Tips on how to raise smart kids.
1. DON’T TELL THEM OFF, CELEBRATE CURIOSITY
Questions are not what you want to hear when you have tight deadlines or are in a race against time and Lagos traffic. Resist the urge to say ‘Please don’t disturb me, mummy is busy’ or call the house-help or older siblings to take that child away.
Rather you should encourage them to question things and make a conscious effort to answer their questions. By doing so, you add to their knowledge and you help them build confidence and hunger for learning. READ: [How to Feed Your Child’s Curiosity]
2. DON’T BUY ONLY TEXTBOOKS, SURROUND THEM WITH BOOKS
It is often said, if you want to hide something from an African man, put it in a book. Bedtime stories are not just for ‘Oyinbo’ people. Read with your children until they can do so unassisted. Buy books regularly. Try different genres of books, not just picture or story books. Discuss books with them and have intellectual discussions about it. Get them to read e-books or listen to audio books (some good can come out of those electronics. You can get free e-books from file-sharing sites like 4shared.com or uploady.com.
Surround them with reading people and reading and learning becomes that doorway to other worlds. Some local bookstores like Laterna Books also host regular book reading sessions monthly for children. READ: [3 Books to Read in Changing Times]
3. DO NOT UNDERMINE THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC
Research has proven that children with music training are usually more intelligent than those without. Rather than letting them listen to the mainstream music with explicit content, put some classical music on. Playing pieces like Mozart from early stages has been known to make children more intelligent.
Encourage them to appreciate music: download it online, make it your ringtone, play it in the mornings during breakfast, or during school runs. Get a music teacher if you can and let them learn to play at least one instrument. Sign them up for extra-curricular activities
4. DO NOT ENCOURAGE PASSIVE LEARNING
Many of those who schooled in Nigeria know what it is to copy notes religiously and cram them enough to ace the papers. Challenge your children. Don’t pay artisans to help them do school projects, encourage them to do it themselves.
Look up fun DIY projects online that they can do themselves in their spare time. Find out what they have learned in school and help them apply it to everyday life.
5. DO NOT LET THE HELP DO EVERYTHING FOR THEM. SELF DISCIPLINE IS VITAL
Many of us have house helps or relatives living with us who help us with the kids. Insist on your kids doing tasks such as laying their beds or washing their plates by themselves.
Controlled T.V watching time, specific dinner hours and bedtime routines aid this. With regards to academic success, research has proven that self-discipline beats IQ. Don’t always pick up after them. Any parent lacking self-discipline would find it hard to enforce this one so challenge yourself. The world’s richest and most successful individuals are self-disciplined and are known to be highly organized and sticklers for time. READ: [How To Teach Your Children Discipline]
6. MAKE THE MOST OF BOREDOM
Resist the temptation to get the kids off your back by offering them your phones or tablets for games. Let them have their own personal play time to discover themselves and build their creative abilities. Give them books to read. Buy them toys that would help them learn through play.
Turn things they have learned at school into fun games. Ask them to identify all the red items in the house to teach them new colours or point out all the furniture that start with the ‘B’ sound. Let them help you plan food menus and take them to the market or grocery store. READ: [Are You Too Busy for Your Children?]
7. DO NOT COMPARE THEM WITH OTHER KIDS
How would you like if your child compared you to his classmate’s parents who have nice cars, take their children to nice recreational spots every weekend, and a vacation abroad when you are still struggling to make sure they have a piece of meat to support their rice?
Never compare Segun with Nnamdi who passed Maths. Don’t say things like “All you know is food, meanwhile, your cousin just won a university scholarship”. All parents are different, and all children are different too. Support, love and encourage your child. Some of the history’s geniuses were terrible at school but thrived and excelled because their parents never gave up on them.
8. DON’T DO AS I SAY, DO AS I DO
Yes you’re the boss and unlike their counterparts in foreign countries, your kid cannot call the police for you after a spanking. So you lay the rules down and woe betide that child that goes against them. If you’re telling your child to eat healthy, then eat healthy too.
If you want them to be tidy, then be tidy too and do some cleaning. Be a worthy role-model to your kid. You can’t spend an entire weekend watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and expect your child to take you seriously when you try to enforce only one hour of TV daily.
9. DO NOT DISPLAY NEGATIVE EMOTIONS AROUND THEM
Your children can pick up on your moods. Try to stay happy and stress free when you’re around them. The last thing you need is for your baggage and troubles to weigh on your child’s mind when they should be having fun learning. They are happy when you are happy.
You have to be deliberate about everything when you want to raise smart children. Over time, these things become as natural as breathing to them and they are the better for it. In the long run, you also stand to gain a lot from it.