From the Superintendent's
Can We Raise our Children's IQ's?
Last week, I was interviewed for a newsmagazine
program on the subject of whether of not we can raise a child's
IQ. There has been a great deal of scientific research on
this subject, and arguments have been written on both sides,
but as an educator I lean toward the side that believes we
can have a positive impact on a child's intelligence level,
or capacity to learn.
IQ tests that are popularly used are usually accurate indications
of how academically successful an individual will perform
in school. This is one reason that we use such academic
aptitude tests when we seek to identify both children with
special needs and children with intellectual gifts, but
we have to remember that they may not always recognize
other exceptional gifts. However, in school, and in life,
a number on an IQ test is not how we measure success. Success
is more accurately measured by an individual's accomplishments,
and “brilliance” is
very often associated with original ideas or inventions. I
am most concerned with giving our students every advantage
in developing their powers of intelligence, which include
abstract thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and comprehension
of both written and oral information. It is widely accepted
that children learn an enormous amount of information while
they are young. For example, we have found that both language
and music affect brain development, and in Syosset we have
a program that introduces our elementary school students
to a new language each year, beginning in kindergarten with
Russian, then Chinese in first grade, Spanish, French, and
Italian in second through fourth grade and finally, Latin
in fifth grade. The goal is not to become fluent in these
languages, but for the language study to stimulate the brain
to accept different messages and sounds, and increase their
receptiveness to learning new information. I feel that if
we can increase a child's ability to learn, that is certainly
tantamount to having an effect on that child's IQ—whether
or not it shows up on a test.
Our students have thrived when we have challenged
them intellectually and when we give them the opportunities
to use their imaginations and problem solving abilities.
While we do have a separate program for those students identified
as gifted, we also have our teachers of the gifted work with
all of our students in each elementary school, and teach
them the advanced thinking skills that are very often only
taught as part of a gifted program.
The newsmagazine interview took place in a sixth
grade classroom, and after we spoke, the interviewer asked
the children what their parents told them would help them
to be smarter and why it was important. They answered that
their parents said that if they would pay attention and do
their best in school, they would be smarter, and schoolwork
would be easier. I can add that their parents can also help
them by making reading and museum and zoo visits a family
affair, and by communicating with and including their children
in their day-to-day activities from the time they are very
The results of an intelligence test should not
have an influence how a parent interacts with their child.
Treat your children as if they have already been tested to
be as gifted as you can imagine and you will undoubtedly
give them the environment to learn all that they are capable.
With children, the possibilities are always endless, no matter
what number is written on the test score.#
Dr. Hankin is superintendent of Syosset Central
School District. Randi Sachs is Public Information Officer
of Syosset Schools.