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Enhancing your Child's Intelligence

To push or not to push

Parents vary widely in the stand they take on this issue. On one hand, you have the parents who follow the laissez-faire school of thought. They believe that a child's intelligence is determined at birth and develops naturally. As long as their children seem intelligent enough to get on in the world, they are quite happy to leave them to their own devices. The parents on the other end of the spectrum might call this lazy parenting. They feel that while nature gifts a child with the seed of intelligence, it is the parents' job to nurture and stimulate this intelligence to its full potential. 
 

Use it or lose it

Theva Nithy, author of a book entitled "Your Child Your Genius" is a person who supports the latter school of thought. He graduated in neuroscience from the University of Toronto, Canada and has been researching childhood intelligence for the last eight years. He is the founder of and a neuroscience consultant at Smartbrain Mind Technologies, a centre that specializes in child and adult mind development. His theory is based on the simple premise that what one doesn't use outgrows its usefulness and is discarded. According to him, every child is born with 12 billion brain cells called neurons. However, those neurons that are not used by the time the child is twelve years old die and cannot be replaced. Studies show that on the average only 6 billion neurons survive. In Mr. Nithy's opinion this is a colossal waste. He feels that parents must strive to ensure that their child uses as many of those 12 billion neurons before the child reaches the age of 12. In this way, parents can be sure that the child has made optimum use of its brain capacity. 
 

Opposing views

Sanjana Mishra has a one-year-old daughter and she says, "I want my daughter to enjoy her childhood, but at the same time I will do my best to stimulate her intelligence by exposing her to different sights, sounds and experiences. I don't believe that being able to recite ten different nursery rhymes is a great achievement. In my opinion rote learning is no learning at all because in the long run one does not remember things just because you have memorized them."

Mary Thomas, mother of twelve-year-old Ashish, feels differently. According to her, "These days there is a lot of pressure on children. It is not like the old days when you could play as long as you liked as long as you did your homework. Now parents have to be more involved and they have to make sure that their children do not lag behind. My son has tuitions twice a week in maths and Hindi. My son has also been going for swimming and guitar classes since he was ten years old. He was not happy in the beginning, but he will thank me in the end. I feel it is very important that children learn other things besides what is in their school books. Next year I want to send Ashish for computer classes."

In the past, childhood was a time free of care, full of play and anticipation for what the new day would bring. Today, it is a bit of a rat race out there. There are far greater demands on children today than there were a decade ago. They have to know more, do more and be more. Parents are beginning to see it as a duty to equip their child to deal with the pressures of the real world. The attitude is that parents should give their children the best opportunities that money can buy to learn and the rest is up to them. Parents of the 'laissez-faire' school may not agree with this. They probably do not understand the need to 'pressure' the child at this age when the pressures of adulthood are inevitable. While some children turn out fine without attending hundreds of classes aimed at turning them into well-rounded individuals, there are others that find themselves sorely lacking. The debate rages on with no conclusion in sight.
 

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