How to Spark It

Wed, 24 Mar, 2021

How to Raise Smart and Successful Kids

Every parent wishes that their child grows up well, does well in school and develops to become a highly successful adult. Isn't that what you wish for your child? Don't you envision the best for them where nothing can stop them from success?

When a child is born and comes into this world, they are like a blank canvas, in purpose and intent. Their upbringing and the way they express themselves depends on how parents teach them to.

For a child's brain to grow and develop, it is necessary to stimulate their little brains the right way and to provide them with a wide range of experiences – as early on in life as possible. As a parent, there are various things you can do to raise a smart kid.

5 Main Core Areas Of Early Child Development

  • Personal/Social

    Personal and social development is essential as children learn to take care of themselves and maintain a routine or practice basic hygiene. They also learn how to interact with others, share things, make friends, etc. To develop this in children, pretend play is an excellent way as it enables children to express their thoughts, emotions, fears and anxieties.

  • Physical

    As children grow, their body changes; they develop fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Gross motor skills enable the ability to coordinate large muscle groups like legs and arms. Fine motor skills will allow the ability to coordinate small muscles like fingers and arms. Fine motor skills are divergent and different from gross motor skills, requiring less precision and accuracy to perform.

  • Emotional

    Kids develop emotional coping and emotional intelligence skills, including self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and empathy for others. They learn skills in understanding, decoding, and discerning emotions, based on expressive and situational cues that have a level of consensus as to their emotional meaning.

  • Language

    Small children must develop the ability to perceive and use their first language to primarily communicate with others. They should develop essential language skills like speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Literacy and language are the fundamentals of early childhood development.

  • Cognitive

    Cognitive development is related to problem-solving, abstract thinking, learning, and exploration. These areas are motor (physical), language and communication, cognitive, and social/emotional. Cognitive development means how children think, explore and figure things out. It also encompasses the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of skills for understanding the world.

    During the initial years, it is super important that children get constant attention, support, and mentorship from parents, as they are their first teachers. Therefore, parents must understand the needs of their children to help them grow into smart kids.

Top Characteristics Of A Successful Child

Every student is different and has unlimited potential. But whether they live up to that potential depends on how involved their parents are. Experts believe that a parent's role in a child's life has a far-reaching impact that decides the child's success at school and life.

Like most parents, you too hope for your child's success. Well, who doesn't want a child they can be proud of, right?

But, do you know the secret to raise a successful child? Do you want to know? Sure, you do! So, let's begin.

We all know that successful, happy people – those who have cracked the formula of success in careers and relationships – tend to have some common characteristics.

You may have often seen that the smartest kids in the class aren't always successful, while the less academically-abled students may excel. And you wondered why. That's because…

Success in today's world puts a higher premium on two skill sets – Character qualities and Academic proficiency.

Many students may get perfect or almost perfect test scores, but what makes them set for success is their character skills.

Let's take an example

While your child is reading a book, he gets to the hard part. What does he do? Does he slam the book shut? Or does he take efforts and apply strategies to figure out the words and their meanings?

There are two forces in action here: Character and Academics. If academics do not help, he won't go far. But if his character skills, such as grit, optimism, self-control are in play, he will be able to decode the words.

These two – character and academic skills are the two helices of education. They are intertwined; one cannot function without the other. It's not the grades and test scores that spell a child's success – it's the combination of character and academic skills.

If you can identify and nurture these skills and characteristics in your child, you'll be able to help your child crack the formula too.

So, let's take a look at both

Character Skills: How You Can Nurture Them in Your Child?

  • Resilience

    • Build a strong emotional connection. Spend one-on-one time with your kids.
    • Promote healthy risk-taking. Push your child's limits. Challenge your child's comfort zone.
    • Resist the urge to fix all your child's problems. Rather ask questions and bounce the problem back to the child. With a little help from you, your child will think through the problem and come up with solutions.
    • Teach problem-solving skills. Encourage your child to come up with a list of ideas or solutions. Weigh the pros and cons of each one.
  • Open-Mindedness

    • Lead by example. The change starts with you.
    • Encourage your child to question.
    • Expose your child to different things – the experience of different things, people and places is good for your child to develop open-mindedness.
    • Point out prejudice. When your child is faced with prejudice, help to recognise it and then teach how to resist it.
    • You need to encourage your child to truly listen to others to help understand a different viewpoint.
  • Self-Control

    • Set expectations each day.
    • Allocate a place in your home for your child's belongings. Let your child know where to put the stuff.
    • Encourage quiet activities, such as reading a book or completing a puzzle together. This helps your child to slow down and increase focus.
  • Social Awareness

    • Educate your child on why and how people look and act differently.
    • Model thankful behaviour to help your child understand the importance of gratitude.
    • Point out every day wrong situations you and your child may experience and explain why they're wrong.
    • Help your child experience the gift of giving. Donate clothes/toys or volunteer to help a local charity.
    • Be a role model.
  • Teamwork

    • Encourage your child to play board games and outdoor activities. These activities are great for developing important social skills like collaboration, taking turns, and compromise.
    • Keep cooking challenges or art projects that make siblings or playdates work together towards a common goal.
  • Responsibility

    • Teach your child to pick up toys once done with playing.
    • Give a few chores, such as filling the water bottles, polishing shoes, etc.
  • Intellectual Curiosity

    • Develop interesting play activities that will help your child to quench curiosity. Science toys are good to develop curiosity.
    • Encourage your child to explore the natural surroundings.
    • Encourage them to ask questions and provide answers to them.
    • Teach children to be good observers. It helps to increase attention span.
  • Initiative

    • Hold your child responsible for age-appropriate chores and praise the effort, not the result.
    • Provide a supportive environment that allows failure.
    • Role model this trait yourself.

Academic Skills: How You Can Nurture Them in Your Child?

  • Organisation

    • Make a checklist of things your child needs to bring to and from school every day. Paste a copy by the door and one in the school bag.
    • Observe how your child keeps track of homework and organises the notebooks. Then work together to figure out a doable system.
    • Take your child shopping for tools, such as folders, files, and binders, to help stay organised.
  • Time Management

    • Maintain a monthly calendar to track assignments. Help your child to break larger assignments into smaller tasks.
    • Help your child record how much time is spent on homework every week. Then divide this time into manageable portions.
    • Together, designate a time for homework and help your child stick to it.
    • If evening time doesn't suit your child for homework, figure out a different time slot, such as early morning.
  • Prioritisation

    • Ask your child to make a list of all the things (school and extra-curricular activities) that has to be done.
    • Ask your child to label the tasks from 1 to 3, with 1 being most important.
    • Understand each task so that you understand your child's priorities.
    • Help your child change some of the labels to better prioritise success.
    • Check in often to see how the to-do list is evolving and how your child is prioritising the tasks.
  • Concentration

    • Restrict access to games and emails when your child works on the computer.
    • Announce that mobile and TV are off-limits during homework time.
    • Find a space that's devoid of distractions.
    • Keep the siblings away from the child during homework time.
  • Motivation

    • Try to establish a link between school lessons and your child's life. For example, if your child is learning percentages, ask to figure out the discounted percentage on the item you plan to buy.
    • Try to link your child's interests to academics. If your child is passionate about cars, give books about cars to learn more.
    • Allow your child to take control and make choices. With your help, let your child decide on their study hours and organise school projects.
    • Encourage your child to share what's learned in school.
    • Congratulate your child on successes and encourage the efforts put in.

Along with academic skills and character skills, you must identify your child's learning style to prep them for success.

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Learning Styles: Help Boost Your Child's Performance

All children are very different type of learners, and each child has their individual learning style. There are no "better or worse" or "right or wrong" learning styles. Some children learn best with one learning style, while others may need a combination of different learning styles.

Figuring out your child's educational learning style is important to improve their skills, grades and transform them into successful kids. There are four distinct educational learning styles.

  • Reading and Writing Learners

    The child learns best when visual information is presented to them in a written language format.

  • Visual Learners

    The child learns best when visual information is presented in a picture or design format.

  • Kinesthetic Learners

    The child learns best when they are physically engaged in a "hands-on" activity.

  • Aural Learners

    The child learns best when auditory information is presented in an oral language format.

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Tips To Raise A Successful Kid

We have hand-picked activities which you as parents can use to help your children be sma.rter right from the start.

  • Start early

    Talking to your children even when they are small babies is a great way to start early and cultivate a love for learning. Use real talk more than baby talk, from the very beginning, and encourage children to gesture during word learning, pointing to objects you're naming.

  • Read stories to them

    Books are wonderful to stimulate a child's thinking capability and imagination. You must read to your child every day. Use bright and coloured books with a lot of images to hold their interest. The more you acquaint your baby with letters and pictures, the more inclined they will be to read when they are older.

  • Play with them

    Parents are the first to introduce sports and games to their kids. Basic activities like throwing a ball, riding a bike, or simple board games create bonding and also stimulate interest in skill games and physical activities.

  • Develop reading habits

    Reading books is one of the essential activities that make kids smart. Reading to kids or reading with them is a good head start in developing language skills. It is proven that kids who are read to as infants develop a lifelong interest in reading and do well academically.

  • Encourage physical activities

    It is a myth that physical exercise only makes a child healthy. The truth is that it makes them equally smart and helps with alertness and mental sharpness, and focus. Exercise increases blood flow and builds new brain cells, as well.

  • Choose toys that exercise your child's imagination

    Always choose toys that can be multi-purposed and played in various ways. This accelerates imagination and enables children to learn a variety of skills.

  • Make music fundamental in your child's life

    It is scientifically proven that listening to music can boost attention, memory, learning, and motivation. It also helps to lower the stress level in children.

  • Foster your child's creativity

    Creativity is a unique mental characteristic in all endeavours that include problem-solving. Kids are naturally creative, some may be more genetically talented, but creativity is also a learned behaviour that can be nurtured.

  • Limit screen timing

    Although smartphones and other screen gadgets help a child learn, socialise and communicate, it also leads to health and emotional issues if children overuse them. Screen time should ideally be an interactive experience between the parent and the child, stimulating brain development and language development.

  • Make time for educational games

    If you allow screen time to kids, the best way to use smartphones and tablets is to play educational games and interact with your child. This develops hand-eye coordination along with boosting cognitive, emotional and physical skills.

  • Ask them practical problems to solve

    It is not recommended to always provide a solution to children while problem-solving. Instead, guide and hint them to solve the problem on their own. Ask them questions to stimulate thinking, make problem-solving fun, and teach them to have a positive attitude while solving problems.

  • Help them develop a growth mindset

    Kids should never have a fixed notion about their intelligence. They should develop a growth mindset to see learning as a process of growing and becoming better. When a kid fails at something, they should treat their failure as an opportunity to learn instead of being disappointed.

  • Make them do household chores

    Always give children age-appropriate household chores. Small kids of around two years can be given simple tasks like putting toys back in the box or setting the dining table. Older kids may do activities like vacuum cleaning, taking out the trash, or do laundry. These activities make children responsible, self-sufficient, and a good team player.

  • Teach them social and emotional skills

    When children are helpful to others, understand feelings, and cooperate with their peers, they are more likely to be successful as adults. Parents need to talk to kids about their feelings regularly and motivate them to control their negative thoughts and emotions.

  • Try teaching them more than one language

    Raising a child to be bilingual helps them be more flexible and focused. It also enhances cognitive capabilities. They also understand the process much faster as compared to other kids.

  • Always be there to listen to their perspective

    Accept all feelings but not all behaviours. Don't interrogate; validate instead. If children are upset about something, they always listen to what they have to say and their emotions. Sometimes all they want is to be felt safe.

  • Teach them self-discipline

    Self-discipline helps kids delay gratification, resist unhealthy temptations, and tolerate the discomfort needed to reach their long-term goals.

  • Let your child see you do creative things they can imitate

    Kids ape what adults do and learn the most by seeing adult's behaviour. If, as parents, you are engaged in reading, writing, listening to music, working hard, or doing creative things, kids will imitate you, and the process will make them smarter.

  • Give your kid smart computer games

    The most recommended kid-friendly computer games usually teach children about stimulation, responsiveness, communication, music, maths, and letters. It also teaches them hand-eye coordination.

  • Allow kids to take risks and fail

    Parents should always allow their children to take mediocre risks. If children do not take the risk, experience failing or losing once in a while; they may develop phobias and lose self-confidence. Avoid rescuing or solving problems for them quickly.

  • Encourage kids to have a "can-do" attitude

    Encouraging your child to work hard is a great way to keep them motivated. It is okay to reward and praise them once in a while for the efforts they take to achieve something.

  • Do not say negative things about yourself in front of kids

    A little self-deprecation is normal but be very careful while doing it as children are highly impressionable. The items you hate about yourself may become the things they hate about themselves.

  • Make sure your child sleeps enough

    A strict sleeping routine is essential for the kids. It makes them self-disciplined, helps them be less cranky and do better in school. A good 8-10 hours of sleep is vital for young kids.

  • Help your kid develop grit

    Grit is more of the temperament to achieve long-term goals with stamina, hard work, and perseverance. Having grit is the real deal-breaker between being a high achiever and an unsuccessful person. A simple way to teach children about grit is to share the frustrations and disappointments you may have experienced with him.

  • Praise your child for hard work rather than for being smart

    Kids who are praised for hard work often challenge themselves to achieve higher goals. Kids who are praised only for being smart avoid challenges for fear of failure.

  • Believe in your kid

    Believing your kid is smarter than average has a considerable influence and positive impact on your kids.

  • Use bribery as one of the parental toolkits

    It is okay to bribe your child once in a while for doing chores and getting good grades. You may ask your child their preference for incentives. Bribery, however, should not be used to control the child or stop unacceptable behaviour.

  • Don't micromanage your child

    Avoid micromanaging or always correcting your kid. Give them the opportunity and time to discover things for themselves. This will nurture creativity and innovative thinking.

  • Don't stress out your child or yell at them always

    A study revealed that kids exposed to stress in the first three years are usually more prone to stress in their growing years. These kids are generally hyperactive, stubborn, anxious and impulsive. Stress hormones can scar the brain and be a barrier to emotional development and memory.

  • Make maths fun and teach it as early as possible

    Maths is essential to learn as a child. The earlier your child starts learning, the better it is for them. As parents, you can involve maths in almost all the activities you do and make it fun and interactive.

  • Enroll your child in the right preschool

    Preschool will help your child develop emotionally and socially. Preschool teaches children how to be respectful towards others, solve problems, and also how to compromise. The right preschool will allow your child to explore, play, build confidence and gain a sense of self-discipline.

  • Read together

    We cannot emphasise enough about reading books. Reading stimulates thinking capabilities and imagination. Reading along with young children is an excellent way to improve cognitive skills and help with cognitive development.

  • Create opportunities to interact with other children

    When children interact socially, it provides stimulating experiences and prepares them to face challenges. Playdates with other children is a great way to start and help them make friends.

  • Avoid praising innate qualities like looks and intelligence

    Praising children in abundance for their intelligence or looks can be complicated than it appears. Intelligence and looks are not everything you need in life. From instigating an internal sense of control to enabling a life-altering growth mindset, the words parents choose can have a lasting effect on the child. So, be cautious about what you praise.

  • Do not demotivate, but appreciate the dedication

    When a child is praised for their commitment and efforts, it motivates them to work harder for what they want to achieve. This also makes them more confident and well-rounded as they always make an effort to try different activities.

  • Let them help when you're preparing food

    Helping in the kitchen and cooking can help kids learn basic maths and strengthen language skills. The whole experience of making meals can boost self-confidence and also lay the foundation for healthy cooking habits.

  • Encourage learning music

    A recent study conducted by the University of Toronto revealed that children who studied and learned music typically have higher IQs as adults. Learning music boosts imagination, patience and is a beautiful vehicle to open up the child's mind.

  • Help them choose the right TV shows

    It is always recommended to let children watch age-appropriate TV shows that do not have violence and are interactive. TV viewing should be an active learning experience, and parents should encourage children to sing, dance, and talk about what they see and hear while watching the shows.

  • Get them involved in art and painting

    Painting helps children develop both mentally and physically. They produce hand muscles, mobility skills and also make children focus on trivial details.

  • Motivate your child- father time

    Involving dad with children right from the start is the greatest and often an untapped resource for improving a child's life. Children who spend time with their fathers do better academically, cope up with life better, and are more prone to problem-solving.

  • Set goals

    Articulating goals, large and small, and achieving them makes kids feel strong. Help your child turn desires and dreams into actionable plans by encouraging them to make a list of things they would like to accomplish. Then, practice breaking down longer-term goals into realistic benchmarks.

  • Let your child make his own Identity

    When you start early by offering your child various age-appropriate and safe options and interests to explore on their own, they tend to experiment and be more creative in cultivating those interests. As a parent, you should validate their claims and help develop their identity.

  • Allow expression

    Accepting your child's expression and allowing them to express themselves makes them more calm and confident. Show your child how you're feeling about different situations and how you deal with those feelings. When feelings are minimised or dismissed, they will often be expressed in unhealthy ways.

  • Allow your kid to get bored

    Boredom is not always negative, but it helps children think and become creative. Boredom is also fundamental in preparing the child for adulthood. Make your child learn to enjoy quiet time to reflect and create activities on their own.

  • Encourage and teach self-encouragement

    It is no secret that all humans need encouragement. Encouraging your child regularly will only make them feel more motivated and positive. When children goof up, teach them mantras like "I think I can, I think I can!" to keep them motivated and try again until they succeed.

With a bit of planning and strategy, you can introduce activities that stimulate social skills and hard work without replacing precious free time with flashcards and regimented learning.

It is also recommended that parents make learning a journey by using apps and technology to sharpen skills. Recognise your child's strengths and weaknesses and help them master a skill or learn a skill.

  • Enroll your kids in the best classes like the ones offered by PlanetSpark. This platform offers online lessons to help your child master the art of Public Speaking, Communication, Grammar, Vlogging, and other 'new age' skills.

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