Did you know that your home environment can be intelligence-promoting? From birth, the quality of a child’s physical environment plays a critical role in developing and expressing that child’s intelligence. It’s no surprise that a depriving and unstimulating environment is shown to have a negative impact on the mental development and overall intelligence of children. But the great news is, as home educators, you hold the power to create an environment where your child’s intelligence can thrive.
But what is intelligence, anyway? For children, early signs of intelligence include curiosity, inquisitiveness, concentration, and the ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Howard Gardener, an American developmental psychologist, concluded that there are many types of intelligence. His contention was that children possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways. There are currently nine types of intelligence that have been identified and you can read about them here.
Whatever your child’s intelligence type is, you can nurture a quality environment and promote intelligence in your homeschool by meeting six basic needs that are essential for all children to thrive.
1. Children need access to good nutrition.
Poor nutrition is a form of counterintelligence. The way we nourish a developing mind from birth right on through the teen years is critical. A child who doesn’t receive enough of the right foods to eat can suffer lasting behavioral and cognitive deficits like slower language and fine motor development, lower IQ, and more unsatisfactory academic performance. Be sure to stock your home with plenty of healthy food options that are easy for your children to access. Place a fruit bowl at the center of the table, fresh veggies on the lower shelf of the refrigerator, and other healthy snack options placed at eye-level in the pantry.
2. Children need an organized space to learn.
Organized spaces are vital to the realization of a child’s mental potential. That’s because a child’s internal mental environment will begin to reflect their external surroundings, resulting in a disorganized mind mimicking a disorganized environment. In essence, the experience of organization offers children a secure, stress-free environment where they have the emotional space to develop. A child who studies in an organized space experiences better concentration and works more efficiently.
3. Children need the freedom to explore safely.
Mental development is guided, nourished, and empowered by an exploration of the physical world. A baby-proof home where a toddler can roam freely or a secured backyard where children can play worry-free provides essential stimulation to a child’s mind. Of course, as children grow, that “safe space” expands to your neighborhood and community. The idea here is to be certain that your child’s physical environment provides as much safety and freedom as possible. Addressing safety issues in and around your home, and defining safe spaces in your neighborhood that your children are permitted to explore freely, is a great place to start.
4. Children need opportunities to self-learn.
Learning resources should be available and accessible in every home. All school-aged children should have ready access to things like art supplies, encyclopedias, books, and a computer with parental-control software installed for safe internet research. Helping your child apply for a library card and teaching them how to research and check out books, or showing them how to utilize learning resources to find answers to their pressing questions, are also valuable practices. When a child can use resources on their own initiative, without needing a parent to access them, that child has the freedom to initiate a self-directed or child-led learning experience.
5. Children need the right visual stimulation.
Children are sensitive to color. A child’s attitude, attention span, stress level, and creativity are all influenced by the colors they see around them. For instance, cool hues of blue increase productivity and produce calming chemicals in children. Green is also calming and is associated with nature and creativity. Red stimulates brain activity and can increase a child’s IQ, but it can also distract and induce stress when overused. Therefore, research colors and use them to create feelings of security, relaxation, and enjoyment in your home environment and learning space. As your children mature, let them have a say in what colors they wear and see.
6. Children need a nurturing social and emotional environment.
A parent’s disposition has a significant impact on a child’s environment and often sets the tone for that child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development. When your disposition toward your child reflects love, joy, peace, kindness, self-control, and other virtues, you are providing a great example of how to navigate the world and establish a productive environment that enables your child to thrive socially, emotionally, and cognitively.
Ask yourself; is our home environment a warzone or a haven for my children? A warzone is full of power-struggles, yelling, and threats, making a child feel anxious and fearful and not conducive to learning. However, a haven is an environment where a child feels safe, feels a sense of community, has full trust in their parents, and is free to explore their intellectual potential.
Want to read more about children and intelligence? Read How to Unveil Your Child’s Inner Genius and Boost Their Academic Confidence