How To Teach A Child To Be Smart

This is how to teach a child to be smart.

First thing: you must start early, but it’s never to late to learn.


Teach them to pay attention to you.  You do this by making them smarter; they appreciate that; they love it in fact.  (It’s an ego thing, and helps fulfill their sense of curiousity.)

You do this by teaching them.

My grandsons went from ignoring me (parents divorced, we only see them sometimes) – now 8 and 10.  In 3 days their minds were in the palms of our hands – they come over here, and the first thing they want to do (after greetings and all) – is “teach me (to learn) grandpa!”.

I do this by teaching them.  It becomes a self-feeding cycle – energy supplied by that curious mind and YOUR time.  (You gotta have time!  MAKE some; get UP; quit watching TV – and TEACH THEM.  It’s interesting and it’s fun!  And much more real life than that TV or this computer thing.)  And we only had to teach one; the brother of one got jealous (but in a friendly and curious way; curious to see what was going on) – and got involved for his own benefit -never realizing what was going on.  That we were teaching him.  How to extend his own curiousity into things; by extending his curiousity about us, and the things his brother was learning.

It did not take long.

And the lesson begins like this:

I told them to “Look for the smallest things.”

Then I explained (reason I’m giving lesson; enhancing the child’s interest in learning this lesson by a large and huge factor: expanding in both ways; three dimensionally – kinda like a child’s mind):

“No matter what is going on – look for the smallest things.  That way you’ll never miss the big one’s – everyone see’s those – but you’ll see the things that no one else does.”

And then you do this thing, illustrating to them (proving the value of this lesson you are giving them – and growing their own mind and intelligence in the process.  Better have your scientific facts handy, my friends!)

Below is an example of exactly what I mean:

“Pay attention to detail”, we used to tell our young daughter, walking on some path. And I’d point out the beetles; the grains of sand; pointing at the concrete I’d say: “See that? See the tiny bits of sand?  See those tiny rocks?  And YOU thought you were walking on concrete!”  And we’d laugh, moving on to something else: perhaps a bit of fungi growing on a tree; a bug crawling on that bit of moss: the little things, and then even smaller even:

“Look for the smallest of things,” I used to tell her when she was five and we began walking around; looking at this life and world of ours; “Then you’ll never miss the big ones.  People are always waiting on the big things to happen when there are small things happening all the time.  Look at that ant.  Look at that ant’s legs.  Look at what he’s doing; what he’s carrying around.  Follow him and find out about his habits; there’s a whole world of things going on.

“You are just not looking; you’ll find yourself entertained,” when she’d find herself bored; and then we’d show her; guiding her in the wonders of this world.*  As a result we had the kind of child who could entertain herself for hours on end – and not watching TV or playing video games.   After all: which one is more valuable: that high score your child is achieving on “Mutant Wars” or something (Halo comes to mind) – or raising their IQ?  Expanding their mind and their own universe of knowledge?  Which benefits them more?

And here’s the second trick we learned.

Teach them to teach themself.

Teaching a child how to teach themself is a valuable skill in and of itself.  It’ll do you good – and it’ll do them good.  We were taught to teach ourselves as a VERY young kid: we had to do that to SURVIVE.  And it made us smarter; which is a good thing – even if how it had to happen may seem brutal to you; we look at it as the hand of God coming down and adjusting our own lives – clipping and pruning some; hurting us with some things – to have some good come out at the end.  You gotta bend metal to strengthen it; beating on it works some good.  Apparently that was in God’s plan; and we are thanking him (with a wry and humorous smile).

Okay, Teaching Them to Teach Themselves

Lot to that one.  First you start out by stating your goal to them:

“I’m going to teach you how to teach your own self – so that way you can make your own self smarter when I am not around.”  This lights the spark in their mind that says, “Hey, he’s saying I can do this one myself!  Make myself smarter on something sometime!”  A dim spark, to be sure; you’re gonna have to be breathing some fire on it (meaning teaching them ideas; things in the world: how to build levers; what’s going one; what things are made from – and DO your research before saying ANYTHING you don’t know!

Do NOT be so proud and egotistical as to MAKE UP some answer: they’ll find you out in time: it will HURT and disappoint them in YOU and put doubt in their mind about anything you ever say again.  (It’s called a TRUSTING thing; you are all right and you always know some sort of things.)

Including this thing; these few words:

“I Don’t KNOW.”  Use them often.  Don’t let pride / ego be blinding you to your own ignorance.  Don’t let stupidity rule your world.  Learn to be ignorant: letting yourself say that thing, even to your own self: I don’t know.

And then use it on your boss sometimes.  You’ll be surprised how startled some of them are when you admit this thing (they don’t know either, trust me on that – that’s the reason they asked you!).

And then tell them:

“I’m gonna find out.”  And then do this thing – taking this boss – and/or your own children along.  (Children are bosses in some senses of the world; it is your responsibility to teach them and treat them well and with loving care – therefore ‘they’ tell YOU what to do.  It’s called responsibility, folks.  Welcome to the world – and you are not your own boss.  The world is.)

And teach them this one:

“I am human” meaning yourself and them.  “I am going to make mistakes sometimes.  Sometimes some bad ones.  You will too.  And then we’ll just pick ourselves up – dusting ourselves off – having gotten SMARTER – learned not to do THAT one anymore! – and move on: having learned something!”

(We’ve all heard the phrase “He’s having a learning experience,” usually used wryly and in business sometimes.  WELL?  Teach your CHILDREN this – and tell them it’s all right to do so!  The mistakes they make while they are small are a lot easier to correct than the ones they will make when they are big!)

Then: Teaching them to read.

Show them the value in this thing.  We used to pick up a book – a complicated one or an advanced one – and our daughter used to point at a picture (not being able to read) – we used Encyclopdias for this thing – both children’s and adult’s – and we would softly laugh and say:

“Don’t you wish you could read?”  And sometimes we’d flip the page, and moving on.  Frustrating her – but in that frustration lay the real key: the drive to move on and do this thing: learning to read.  This was before she was even in her classes yet.  And get THIS: you can always come back to the thing they were pointing at (or they will on their own, if their intense curiosity is driving them) – when they CAN read – and learn this thing.

And, of course, being the kind parent, you always explain things in the end. You don’t turn past every page; you read to them; you teach them things out of that book you are holding ….. you just don’t teach them everything.  Keeping their curiosity up, and that desiring to read … more than anything.

A) Teach your child to read as early as you can; information processing is done this way.
B) Keeping their interest in the thing; tell them: it doesn’t matter WHAT you read as long as you read.  Find their interests. Explore them with the child – and a book.  Do what I said above.
C) Encourage them to go on reading (in when they get a little bit older; experimenting: vinager and soda type of stuff; the science of cooking going on; everything you can possibly KNOW – but making them WORK for the information as well, saying things like:

“I don’t know!  Why don’t you go and look that one up?  Here, I’m gonna help you” (if they are needing some help, and whether you know this thing or NOT) – and helping them read, find this information – then backing off, and letting them go on … learning how to teach their own selves.

This thing works.  I know.  It was done to me.  Only it can be done in a much kinder and gentler way – and with some better results.

Just a plan.  I’ll probably write more on this one sometime.  Feel free to copy & distribute – or better, hey – just blog on the thing; putting it in your own words – that way word gets spread around.  (It matters not HOW my mind is saying; just that it gets done.)

Making our world’s children smarter.

And maybe even you sometimes.

*  I learned this art being ‘held prisoner’ so to speak; locked in my room for hours and hours on end; only being released to go to the bathroom and things – and no radio, no TV; nothing going on.  A mind has to be creative (and a bit crazy) – to endure this for weeks at a time; sometimes for months on end.  Kinda hurts you in some ways, learning that lesson in that kind of way; we much prefer ours; at least there’s some freedom of some kind, and the child’s mind is allowed to explore the entire world, and not just his mind (and the carpet…and the fibers in the carpet … and that fly in the window…being most careful; he’s got to last days on end….surviving on our own behalf; improving our mind in the days ahead.  Like I’ve said: you gotta look for the blessing sometimes; and sometimes the reason things were done the way they were done.)

About jeffssong

JW is an adult childhood abuse survivor with DID*. He grew up in a violent family devoid of love and affection. He is a military brat and veteran. He no longer struggles with that past. In 1976 JW began writing "The Boy". It took 34 years to complete. It is currently on Kindle ( ), or if you prefer hard copy, on Amazon ( JW resides somewhere in the deep South. He is disabled and living with family. Note: Please feel free to take what you need; all is free to all. With that in mind, keep it that way to others. Thank you. We have 3 Blogs - One for our younger days, 0-10 (The Little Shop of Horrors); one for our Teen Alter and his 'friends' (also alters) with a lot of poetry; and finally "my" own, the Song of Life (current events and things)
This entry was posted in children, Education, Family, Life, Mental Health Professionals, social issues and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How To Teach A Child To Be Smart

  1. Astrid says:

    That lesson about the smallest thing is really important. Not only for people’s intellect, but also for their emotional health. They learn to appreciate the little things in life.

    As for reading, I learned to read at age four or five, and was really interested in it until I had to learn braille at age eight. From then on I rarely read even if my parent spunished me for not reading.


Go Ahead. You were thinking . . . ?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s