Are Smart Kids Made Or Born?
From parents playing a role to kids being both made and born smart, here are six answers to the question, “Are smart kids made or born?”
- Parents Play a Role
- Any Child Can Reach Their Potential
- Genius Can Be Cultivated
- Squandering Opportunity vs. Stretching Capabilities
- 25% Nature, 25% Nurture, 50% Interaction
- Both Made and Born
Parents Play a Role
It’s not possible to completely determine how smart a child is going to be, but it is clear that parents have a role in influencing this. Parents have a huge role in influencing a child’s intelligence. This starts with the pregnancy, and continues throughout the child’s development. Parents can help their children develop their intelligence through various activities. They can read to the child, play games that require logic and reasoning, and encourage them to participate in activities that challenge the mind.
Any Child Can Reach Their Potential
Smart kids can be both made and born. There’s evidence that suggests genes play a role in intelligence. However, environmental factors, such as a stimulating home environment, access to educational materials, and quality education can help children to develop cognitive skills. With the right resources and guidance, any child can reach their potential.
Genius Can Be Cultivated
The Hungarian educator and chess grandmaster, László Polgár, challenged the belief that genius is an innate trait. Instead, he believed that it could be cultivated through intensive dedication and practice. To demonstrate this, he embarked on an experiment of raising his three daughters to be child prodigies by starting their chess education at a young age.
The result was impressive as all three daughters became grandmasters, with Judit Polgár even becoming the strongest female chess player of all time. This experiment supports the idea that one can cultivate genius, regardless of innate intelligence, through hard work, perseverance, and training.
Squandering Opportunity vs. Stretching Capabilities
Okay, so it’s totally a cop-out choosing both, but in my experience, there are always different gifts that children are born with. Some have personalities that lend themselves towards being natural leaders, naturally great problem-solvers, or naturally emotionally intelligent! While raw IQ scores on a test can be helpful to give a metric to use for qualifying us for various opportunities, in our home, we have found that investing in helping our children become connectors, problem-solvers, and empathizers is allowing them the skills they need to navigate the world effectively.
Ultimately, we can be born with incredible opportunity yet squander it by not allowing our children to stretch beyond their capabilities regularly. Sometimes, we have to remember that a shark in a small cage can only grow so large; why should we believe our children are any different?
25% Nature, 25% Nurture, 50% Interaction
In the field of intelligence research, the nature vs. nurture debate rages on. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, scientists were slowly accepting the consensus that nature is 50%-70%, and nurture is 30%-50%. However, as more research on the human genome has been conducted, the evidence has become more complex. Research is showing a significant interaction effect between genetics and environment, making the two less clear-cut.
For example, the extent to which someone benefits from education, nutrition, or intellectual stimulation actually varies depending on their genetics. Conversely, the field of epigenetics shows that one’s environment can actually change the genes themselves, further blurring the line between nature and nurture. It’s becoming increasingly clear that nature and nurture are not bipolar dichotomies, and that this interaction is the more important determining factor of intelligence.
Both Made and Born
Smart kids are both made and born. The idea that intelligence and achievement are completely predetermined by genetics, a theory known as “nature,” is an oversimplification. There’s no doubt that there is a strong genetic component to intelligence, but research has shown that environmental factors play a role in determining how much of that potential is tapped into. Environment is a major factor in determining how “smart” a child is. Access to quality education and resources, supportive parents and teachers, and a stimulating environment can all help foster intelligence in children.
Quality nutrition, exercise, and sleep can also play a part in unlocking a child’s cognitive potential. However, genetic factors are just as important. Some people are blessed with gifted brains that are primed to both learn and retain information. For example, a study of identical twins concluded that between 60% and 90% of IQ can be attributed to genetics.
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