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Parental Involvement Impacts Your Child’s IQ

Smart schoolgirl posing in front of a blackboard
Photograph by Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

Your child’s IQ isn’t just a number written in stone: On the contrary, it can shift, depending on how hard you work as a parent—and we’re not talking about flash cards or math drills.

In a new study by the University of Oregon, Eugene, cognitive neuroscientist Helen Neville enrolled 141 3 to 5 year olds in Oregon’s Head Start program, a program for families who live at or below the poverty line. For eight weeks, kids spent an hour every week doing activities that required intense concentration—for instance, they had to hold a bowl of water while walking across a narrow ribbon.

Meanwhile, their parents were divided into three groups. One group spent an hour every week taking classes learning how to improve their child’s concentration skills. The second group received only three 90-minute tutorials on the same tasks, while the third group got no training whatsoever.

Eight weeks later, researchers tested the kids in a number of ways (IQ, spatial reasoning tests, behavioral reports and measured brain activity). They found that kids whose parents had received the most training on improving their kids’ attention skills showed the most improvements—in fact, a 50% increase in brain activity compared to the other groups. Plus those kids showed a 7-point boost in IQ.

The take-home message? The more you engage with your kids, the smarter they get. Maybe you always suspected that this is a better tactic than handing them an iPad, but hey, now you’ve finally got proof.

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