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Why should you care about your baby’s intelligence?

Manish Jar

First, a bit of history and science

At the turn of the twentieth century, Maria Montessori came out with her theory on early development. Interestingly, many of her contemporaries discounted her brilliant insights as quackery. Although she was a qualified paediatrician, the scientific evidence of the effectiveness of her methods would still take a few years to come by. Theorising without scientific evidence was akin to blasphemy to the proud scientific community of west in those days.

But the decades that followed only proved her right with enough scientific evidence, it a general consensus emerged in the fields of healthcare and education that early development, especially in 0-3 years age band is a great opportunity for parents, communities and the society, at large.

Today, Public Health departments and not-for-profits in the developed world spend millions of dollars every year in order to educate parents of the newly-borns’ about the benefits of early intelligence development.

Some of the best-known institutions in the world are promoting the idea of 0-3 development because they see this as a great opportunity to develop better and brighter citizens and as a solution to prevent many future challenges that today’s children will have.

One such institution is the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child. In the video given below, they explain how the process of brain development takes place in humans.

Brain Architecture Video- Harvard Center on the Developing Child

The experts at this institution suggest that constant ‘serve and return’ interactions with the baby actually augment the brain development process and can achieve great results.

Serve and Return Video – Harvard Center on the Developing Child

They also talk about strategies that parents and caregivers can adopt to actually help the process.

The logic behind this thinking is summarised in their chart below

The essence of the recommendations from the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child is

  1. Early brain development is critical
  2. Parents can support the process by engaging in frequent interactive communication with their babies
  3. The quality and quantity of above interactions can have a significant impact on the cognitive abilities of the baby
  4. It makes sense for the parents to do bit of a planning to have structured interactions that support this development
  5. Supporting such development is not only beneficial to individual babies or parents but the multiplier positive effect on the society can be significant as well.

What is in it for the parents and the caregivers?

Because the process of brain development can be augmented in the early childhood, it is an opportunity for the parents and the caregivers. This is one area where in the “Nature Vs Nurture” debate, “Nurture” actually wins. And let us be clear that this brain development is not just about IQ. It is about EQ as well. Active engagement with babies makes them feel secure and they grow to be positive, caring and confident adults.

The question is what can you do to take advantage of this opportunity?

On this front, the advice from the experts is simple and can be summarised in the following bullet points.

Be aware – Know that you can actively contribute to the brain development process of your child.
Make active efforts – Try to learn about the methods and tools that you can deploy.
Commit to action – Have some kind of plan or routine to work with your baby, starting right at birth.
Empower yourselves – To do a good job, you need to have access to content, materials etc. Be in look out for and acquire right tools. They will make your life easier.

With little awareness and effort on your part, you can actually significantly improve your baby’s future.

Considering the competitive pressures that we will have on our resources in the days to come, we do need sharper brains walking around on our planet. Tomorrow’s adults need to be more capable of solving complex problems and they will come out of today’s children.

Therefore, it is an opportunity as well as a responsibility for all of us to work on the intelligence of our babies.