Food for Thought. Education, the spine to our future: academic grade inflation is higher as economic growth goes deeper. If IQ is not set in stone, do parents need scientifically based tips to raise the educational aptitudes of children to reach decent grades?
Only a few weeks on since the start of the academic year, pressure is on for children to achieve outstanding results against the challenges of the new Schools White Paper.
Parents are already under much pressure to secure better futures for their offspring; and much of the pressure is placed on expenditure in procuring for their children the latest technological devices, while also meeting the costs of school tuition fees, foreign exchange trips, extra curriculum activities, and holidays, to list a few.
IQ is not set in stone: it is the aggregate gauge of a combination of circumstances and habits. In his book entitled The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Charles Duhigg writes:
‘Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success… Students who exerted high levels of willpower were more likely to earn higher grades in their classes and gain admission into more selective schools. They had fewer absences and spent less time watching television and more hours on homework. ‘Highly self-disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic-performance variable,’ the researchers wrote. ‘Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”
The competition is getting tougher. It is believed that only the fittest will survive and thrive in the harsh industry of the employment market and in life in general.
On top of discipline, consistency and relentlessness, below are arguably some scientifically proven tips to follow to make your child smarter:
I Feed their brain. The foods they eat are key. Childhood and teenage-hood are critical for brain development.
Contrary to the common-held view, evidence shows that, rather than ending at age 5, or 12, brain development actually continues into one’s twenties. According to researchers, the teenager brain is still under construction.
As striking brain changes take place during the teen years, what growing young people eat affects their focus and cognitive skills.
Awareness of the importance of optimum nutrition in mental health has already been raised by the British-born Patrick Holford and his team at Food for the Brain (FftB), a non-profit educational charity, created by a group of nutritionists, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, teachers and scientists to promote the link between nutrition and mental health.
Holford is the Chief Executive Officer of FftB, and a leading spokesman on nutrition in the media, specialising in the field of mental health. The author of 36 books, translated into over 30 languages, he is selling millions of copies worldwide, including The Optimum Nutrition Bible.
According to experts, below are a few foods that can help young people stay sharp and which affect how their brains develop well into the future.
The protein and nutrients in eggs (especially organic eggs) help children concentrate.
- Greek Yogurt
Fat is vital for brain health, a full-fat Greek yogurt (which has more protein than other yogurts) can
help keep brain cells healthy and functional for sending and receiving information.
Rich in folate and vitamins, it is believed that spinach and kale have the ability to lower the risk of getting dementia later in life. The high level of antioxidants in kale helps new brain cells grow.
Fish is a great source of vitamin D and omega-3s, which protect the brain from declining mental skills and memory loss. Salmon, tuna and sardines are rich in omega-3s.
“The more omega-3s we can get to the brain, the better it will function and the better kids will be able to focus,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It.
- Nuts and Seeds
High in protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, nuts and seeds may boost mood and control your nervous system.
- Nutrients in foods
Proteins in lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, milk and milk products, grains, seeds and nuts provide energy, and build and repair body cells.
Carbohydrates such as bread, cereal grains, pasta, rice, fruit, starchy vegetables, milk and sugar provide energy needed by the brain, nervous system, and red blood cells.
Meat and poultry, some fish, milk and milk products that are not fat-free (for people who tolerate dairy), nuts and seeds, oils, butter, margarine, salad dressing, some candy, and some desserts are also beneficial to the brain.
II – Additional aspects of the type of parenting that works best on children’s performance are as follows:
- Music Lessons
It is believed that children who attend music groups exhibit greater increases in full-scale IQ.
According to John J. Ratey in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain:
‘Being in good shape increases your ability to learn. After exercise people pick up new vocabulary words 20% faster.’
Ratey explains how a three month exercise regimen increased blood flow to the parts of the brain focused on memory and learning by 30%.
- Nurture their love for reading
To the question as to whether or not reading makes us cleverer, an attempt to provide a comprehensible answer has recently been provided by Dan Hurley for The Guardian in his article entitled ‘Can reading make you smarter?’ It reads:
‘There is evidence that reading can increase levels of all three major categories of intelligence. I believe my discovery of Spider-Man and other comic books turned me into a straight-A student.’
Mr Hurley is an award-winning science journalist whose 2012 feature in The New York Times Magazine on the subject of reading and intelligence was hugely influential.
- A lack of sleep impacts on children’s memory, learning abilities and emotions, making them less smart
It is believed that there is a strong correlation between academic grades and the average amount of sleep.
Matt Walker, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, and principal investigator at the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, argued that scientists can now peer inside our heads to see how a good night’s sleep affects neural activity.
- Self-discipline and the hidden power of character
IQ is meaningless without self-discipline and consistency. Academic grades have more to do with conscientiousness, hard work and consistency than with natural talent or acumen.
On self-discipline, Keller Williams wrote in his book entitled: “The One Thing”:
The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
‘Success is actually a short race—a sprint fuelled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over.’
Mr Keller Williams heads an international real estate franchise company with more than 110,000 real estate agents, operating in 700 offices across the globe.
The Schools White Paper in UK –and those from around the world– now aims to make the curriculum more challenging to students by introducing tight controls in terms of the assessment framework and curriculum knowledge. IQ is not set in stone, whatever a child’s background; it can be nurtured and grown through various stimuli and through nutrition.
As a parent, you have the ethical duty to help your children fulfil their academic potential and succeed in education and in life. You should help them in their studies by providing a home environment of healthy dietary routine and extra curriculum activities. Remember, education is the spine to their futures.
The Bridge Magazine could not agree more with one of Irina Bokova’s most famous quotes on education:
“From better health to increased wealth, education is the catalyst of a better future for millions of children, youth and adults. No country has ever climbed the socioeconomic development ladder without steady investments in education.”
Mrs Bokova is Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialised agency of the United Nations.
Mrs Bokova is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the organization since November 2009.