5 Ways to Stimulate the Intellectual Health of Children from Toddlers to Teens

Published Nov 30, 2016 | Updated Oct 28, 2019

Toddlers, young children and teenagers have a natural desire to learn. Sometimes, however, they need some motivation or prodding to awaken this quality. If you’re a parent, teacher or anyone who supervises kids, it’s helpful to use certain tactics to stimulate the intellects of your charges.

Have Adult Conversations with Them

While children can't be expected to function like miniature adults, they can often understand surprisingly sophisticated subjects. Don’t be afraid to talk to kids about current events, science, the arts and other challenging topics. They’ll understand more than you think and be motivated to find out what they don’t yet know.

Many parents struggle with choosing whether to minimize their child’s knowledge of the grown-up world, or to be upfront and honest with them. This can be a difficult balance, so try to prioritize which lessons are age-appropriate and crucial, and which are probably left for a little later in life. You may be surprised with how well young children can understand and process some more difficult aspects of life.

Combine Play and Learning

One way to stimulate the brains of children is to give them challenging games and puzzles. Many kids love computer games, which can be good for this purpose. However, it’s also helpful for them to manipulate objects offline. Legos, Duplos, Lincoln Logs and jigsaw puzzles all make kids use various parts of their brains. If your children have a knack for mathematics, then science kits such as a chemistry set can allow them to apply mathematics early and in a practical way that connects the lessons to the outside world.

Encourage Their Musical Abilities

Research shows that music helps with many areas of children’s development. This includes playing instruments and singing. Kids don’t have to be musical prodigies to gain these benefits. Music may increase creativity, language skills and even IQ. Most kids enjoy music in one capacity or another. You can encourage this by giving them an instrument or signing them up for music lessons.

Continue Advancing Your Own Knowledge

Kids will naturally be more inclined to pursue intellectual pursuits if they see the adults in their lives doing the same. It’s never too late to continue your own education. This can advance your own career as well as set a good example. You might, for example, pursue a practical graduate degree from an online engineering college. Then you’ll be well equipped to help your child with technical subjects.

Take Family Outings That Stimulate the Intellect

When you plan family activities, choose destinations that are intellectually stimulating. This includes interactive museums, aquariums and interesting historic sites. You can keep this in mind when planning vacations as well. This will help kids associate fun experiences with learning.

Stimulating the intellectual health of kids takes some conscious effort on the part of parents and educators. On the other hand, once you pique the natural intellectual curiosity of a child, he or she will then be highly motivated to learn. The above tips will help you get started with this process.

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