Based on Science, These Six Learning Hacks Will Help Your Child Become Smarter Over the Holiday.

Based on Science, These Six Learning Hacks Will Help Your Child Become Smarter Over the Holiday.

Black Parents: You don't have to be rich or white to raise a brilliant child. You just need to be strategic.

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Young parents need to be intentional in supplementing their children’s education.
Young parents need to be intentional in supplementing their children’s education.
Photo: Rob Marimon (Shutterstock)

Don’t sleep. Experts agree that raising a brilliant person is not something that happens by accident. Masterful parents are intentional, strategic and start early. It’s all based on science... well, neuroscience, according to Haji Shearer, a social worker and parent group facilitator and program director of The Basics. Inc. “Eighty percent of brain growth happens by age 3. There’s a lot we can do to impact the trajectory of our child’s life by engaging them in simple activities when they’re young. Even if your child is older, you can still help them form strong connections between the billions of neurons in their brain. This provides a foundation for future success. How can you help? Sing or play music with them, help them compare bigger and smaller objects to learn math skills, roll or throw a ball to teach eye-hand coordination. Encourage them to move, play and dance. And, of course, read and talk about stories with them.”

And there’s more you can do. So let’s get specific and what better time to began than over the holiday. So here’s some “Black Hacks” to start your child’s successful academic journey:

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Challenge With Blocks

Challenge With Blocks

Playing blocks with your child can inspire the love of math and science.
Playing blocks with your child can inspire the love of math and science.
Photo: Fizkes (Shutterstock)

If you don’t know the science behind blocks, well, just listen up. Try spending everyday playing blocks during the holiday with your young child. If they are receptive, their block playing can began a love of math and science. Block playing improves “spacial reasoning,’’ or that ability to imagine shapes and move and flip them in your head...like what you need to do to understand basic geometry. A child’s brain grows the more they are stimulated and challenged. So challenge them with blocks. Encourage them to build a bigger bridge, or with only yellow blocks. Did you know, Lego-playing children are unknowingly learning practical geometry and the basic foundations of engineering? Don’t believe us? Then ask MIT, who has its own Legos Lab.

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Invite Your Children to the Grownup’s Table

Invite Your Children to the Grownup’s Table

Monkey business images
Discussions during mealtime can increase your child’s words and improve their negotiation skills.
Photo: Monkey business imates (Shutterstock)

Not to generalize, but Black parents have a knack for sending children away from the “Grown folk” conversation. But this holiday season, try not to scurry the little ones to the children’s table. The science behind dinner table conversations is so important that one Ivy League school has created a whole institute to study it.

Over the holiday, set regular mealtime discussions. Invite over adult neighbors and relatives and friends. Encourage your children to provide calm and well-thought out arguments with you. They should feel comfortable talking to adults. According to the Family Dinner Project at Harvard, regular mealtime conversations are linked with better grades, confidence, less eating disorders and drug use. Children learn negotiation skills and thousands of words when they are surrounded by adults, who involve them in their conversation.

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Create A Temporary Classroom In The House


Create A Temporary Classroom In The House

Don ‘t just depend on the schools to teach your children. Turn your home to a learning environment.
Don ‘t just depend on the schools to teach your children. Turn your home to a learning environment.
Photo: Flamingo images (Shutterstock)

If you think for one second, the parents of smart children are just waiting for the schools do all the work, well...we got a bridge name Brooklyn to sell to you. Supplementing your child’s education is one of the smartest things a parent can do. Other parents are paying for tutors and classes. That’s all good, but you don’t have to do all that. During the holiday, start a family book club, create a forty-minute math or writing class in the living room. Relaxing during the holiday is fun, but learning never stops.

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Explore Your Own Surroundings

Explore Your Own Surroundings

You don’t have to travel far to expose your child to the outside world. The backyard or your neighborhood can open their eyes to new things.
You don’t have to travel far to expose your child to the outside world. The backyard or your neighborhood can open their eyes to new things.
Photo: Akarawut (Shutterstock)

Exposing your child to the world is one of the most important things you can do to help them reach their potential. How do you do that? Walk around the neighborhood and point to signs, describe the various architecture, introduce them to interesting mentors who are masters at what your child likes. Expose your child to your own passions whether it’s music, athletics or books. They will decide if it’s for them or not.

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Have Back and Forth Conversations

Have Back and Forth Conversations

Don’t just read to your child but answer their questions and ask your own questions.
Don’t just read to your child but answer their questions and ask your own questions.
Photo: Monkey Business Image (Shutterstock)

Yes, reading to your child is important, but here’s the secret. It’s the back and forth conversations that builds the neurons, and shapes the child’s brain architecture which of course provides the bedrock for future learning, according to Haji Shearer. Scientists call this volleyball-like interaction, “Serve and return,’’ which is when the parent responds to the child’s gestures or questions. So don’t just read to your baby or child, but respond to their gestures or queries. “Your attention affirms their thoughts and feelings are valuable and helps build their self-esteem,’’ Shearer said. “And thank an adult who was present for you when you were young.”

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Encourage Mastery Orientation

Encourage Mastery Orientation

Encouraging a love for learning inspires mastery orientation. When your child masters a subject or task, it only fuels their drive to know more,
Encouraging a love for learning inspires mastery orientation. When your child masters a subject or task, it only fuels their drive to know more,
Photo: Fizkes (Shutterstock)

Mastery orientation simply means a child’s desire to learn for the sake of learning. They don’t have to be coaxed by external rewards like money or gifts. They simply want to get better at a task. How do you encourage mastery orientation? Whatever your child loves, try to facilitate it if possible. Your child loves to read? Take them to the library. If they love science, show them the stars. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money to help your child grow smart and healthy,’’ said Shearer. “ you only need to pay attention to what they are interested in and encourage and guide them.”

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