Last year, a friend asked if I could share some tips on how to raise an intelligent child. His wife was impressed when they visited–the “big man” was almost three then. They sought ideas as they raised their own son.
Well, I told him I could share a few tips based on my role as an observer and encourager. But ultimately, what they observed was all God’s grace. Our own contribution as parents and his creche/pre-school just rode off that.
Slightly edited to suit this medium, here’s what I said about the parent’s role…
The most important part of your job (as a parent) is to pay continual attention to your child. Observe, observe, observe.
Watch what he’s interested in, what he struggles with, what annoys or amuses him. What makes his eyes light up, what he talks about or asks for the most.
You have an opportunity to nurture and build his interest(s) there. For example, most boys love vehicles, nurture his interest there.
I don’t mean you should buy all the toys in the world, buy those you can afford. But I believe it’s even better if you and he can build the toys yourselves! It teaches him resourcefulness, creativity, and nurtures his imagination.
You’re building transferable skills, skills he can take to any other thing in his environment, in school, in life. You’re guiding him to focus, to observe, to think.
Do we ever struggle or ‘fight’? Of course! But it’s a journey, so I look for ways to keep guiding him.
So here’s a summary:
1. Observe him very closely daily.
2. Discover and Nurture his interests – but don’t spoil or bribe him with too many toys.
3. Build things with him. This is hands-on parenting.
4. Read to and with him. Establish a routine. (We read Bible stories almost every night, he refuses to sleep if we don’t read it!
5. Talk to him about things. Never explain away things, encourage him to ask questions and answer them as clearly as possible.
6. Expose him to knowledge you’re afraid could be (is) above his age grade via books, the dictionary, thesaurus, words, numbers, videos, music, audio, software, apps, games, and other materials.
7. Seek every opportunity to model the habits and behaviours you want him to follow after.
Strive to be a good example. We cannot be perfect, but we can do our best and keep learning ourselves, to keep on becoming better persons.
And as it concerns parenting, to continually revise our strategies and grow out our parenting skills as we go along.
8. And, if you can, get and read books and online resources on parenting, about children, and some ideas you can borrow from homeschooling.
Some books have influenced my thinking:
+ The Sixty Minute Father – Rob Parsons
+ Guiding the Gifted Child – James T Webb et al
+ Gifted Hands – Ben Carson
Babycenter.com shares immensely useful information on the website and weekly newsletter, too.
Finally, when you’re tired (you probably are and will still be)… don’t be tired! Hang in there!
Pray to God for grace and wisdom. Keep on investing, keep on planting. That’s what we all are doing now and we will reap goodness soon enough if we faint not.