The Smarts #2: Awakening Smarts

Here’s the second blog from my book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Childs’ Intelligences. It’s about awakening the smarts and I add a list of 8 ways to do this that isn’t in my book. You and your kids will benefit!

Awakening Smarts

Awakening children’s smarts early is advantageous. They’re more likely to become strengths. There are many ways to awaken the smarts. You can explore the unknown with your son, create new experiences for your daughter, and attend cultural events with your extended family. It’s never too late to awaken a part of the mind. And, it stays awake to our influence for many years.

Through age twenty-five, many changes to the brain can occur. And, even after that, we can keep learning. Yes! So, a particular intelligence might not become a definite strength because of a late start, but any smart can be improved, focused, and trained.

Growth Remains

There’s more. Can you picture two balloons—one that’s been blown up and deflated and one that’s never been used? You can tell which is which, can’t you? Once stretched, a balloon never goes back to its original size. The mind is the same. Things you did when you were young stretched parts of your mind and each part will be forever larger than they were. These increases are a significant reason to provide your child with a variety of experiences during all ages and stages.

Like me. I’m a former viola player. Although I haven’t played for more than thirty years, if we both picked up a viola and you’ve never played one, I could play better than you. Experiences awaken and then expand our smarts. That’s why I could also learn to play the violin faster and more easily than someone who has never played a string instrument. Once a smart is awakened, any use of it is easier. Be encouraged!

      From 8 Great Smarts, by Kathy Koch, PhD, (Moody Publishers, 2016), pages 21 23.

Let me expand on this idea that the smarts can be awakened with 8 ways to do it from old blogs. As you’ll see, this doesn’t have to take a lot of work. But, there are great payoffs!

Create new experiences. New experiences awaken interest and ability and both are important for developing intelligences. Strategically plan to do new things. Model this and do new things as a family. Don’t just expect a child to do new things when no one else is.

Attend cultural events. These are specific types of new experiences and can effectively awaken our smarts. Experience the symphony, ballet, opera, concerts, art museums, and area festivals. Open your eyes wide and take it all in. Open your ears all the way and enjoy and react to new sounds. Culture awakens interest and ability.

Go exploring. Investigate what you discover. This, too, awakens both interest and ability. For example, when Albert Einstein was four years old, his father showed him a magnetic compass. When an adult, Einstein later said this compass filled him with a desire to ferret out the mysteries of the universe. Essentially, this experience activated his sleeping genius and started him on the journey toward discoveries that would make him one of the towering figures in 20th century thought.

Engage in discussions. Partly because of their use of digital technology, it can be challenging to get kids talking. But, discussions are essential for vocabulary development and that plays a huge role in intelligences. While experiencing new things and exploring, we can ask questions and make provocative statements. We can work to relate the topic to as many smarts as possible. Use rich language to awaken interest and ability.

Play creatively alone and with others. Largely because of digital technology, today’s children play differently than we used to. Because creative play especially awakens different intelligences, it’s important that parents, grandparents, and early educators create opportunities for children to play creatively. This can involve blank paper and crayons, dress-up clothes and other props, outdoor and indoor games, things to build with, and any number of things you think of. Play engages curiosity, discovery, and imagination. Play awakens interest and ability.

Watch less television, fewer videos, and discuss what you watch. Although there are some developmentally appropriate shows and videos, there is much that no one should view, much less impressionable children. What they do view has greater value when it’s discussed with adults. This facilitates vocabulary growth, understandings of story development, and knowledge related to the shows. Another reason for watching less television is that it frees up time for more valuable activities. Watching less TV, fewer videos, and discussing what is watched awakens interest and ability.

Read together. Reading will never get old and will always be significantly important to children’s intellectual development. It’s also one of the best ways to bond with children. Turn off electronic toys and just read and discuss a variety of books and other materials representing many topics. For instance, although reading children’s books is most valuable, reading together from the Internet when looking for information is also very appropriate. Today, you could find information about leap year and read it together. Reading awakens interest and ability.

Slow down and quiet down. Our culture has become very quick-paced and loud. But, the brain needs quiet, peace, and time to reflect deeply and personally about new understandings. This is especially essential to the awakening and development for children’s self smart. Building quiet time into each day is good for everyone in the family. Slowing down and quieting down awakens interest and ability.

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Which of these awakening strategies can you use today or tomorrow? Watch for the effect it has on your children. Then, celebrate growth!