Study finds three simple ways to boost learning and nurture a more astute mind for the years ahead
Baby's first brainwave
Intelligence is largely inherited, and so clever parents tend to have bright children. But now scientists have found three further ways to boost IQ: taking omega-3; attending a good nursery; and interactive reading, where you read a story to your child, then talk about it together.
American researchers combined results from hundreds of studies to build a clear picture of what works to improve
IQ and what doesn’t. “For much too long, findings have been disconnected and scattered – we wanted to find a consensus,” says John Protzko, of New York University’s Steinhardt School, who led the research.
His team found evidence that omega-3 supplements can boost IQ by three-and-a-half points if given to babies and toddlers. These essential fatty acids, found in oily fish and flaxseed and hemp oils, are the building blocks for nerve cell development.
Going to nursery makes an even bigger difference, raising IQ by at least four points; more if the nursery offers specific language development lessons. However, interactive reading scores best of all, boosting IQ by more than six points, and you can do that at home without any special equipment.
To read interactively, you need to engage your child completely in the story. Draw simple comparisons to your family’s experience (“Do you remember when that happened to Daddy?”), explain new words, and talk about characters’ motivations. However, this tactic only makes a difference to the under-fours, says Protzko, suggesting that interactive reading works by improving children’s early language development.
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