Nurturing intelligence of pre-schoolers
Nurture intelligence of children by giving them lots of opportunities to explore and learn.
Apart from providing food and shelter, nurturing the intelligence of your children is a serious responsibility not to be taken lightly by parents. You do not have to be a professor or acquire a doctorate in education to be able to provide opportunities to develop the intelligence of your children.
Now, what are we talking about when we talk about intelligence? We are now more than familiar with the concepts of ‘IQ’ and ‘EQ’. The former stands for intelligence quotient and the latter, emotional quotient. The terms may sound rather pompous, but what it really boils down to is the ability to think and behave in such a way as to enable the individual to fit into society and enjoy all the good and beauty it has to offer.
Exactly, we all do have different levels of ‘IQ’ and ‘EQ’. That is why some do very well in school, and others can get on so well with people, that they end up getting the top jobs in big companies. We are aware of our personal shortcomings and it is only natural for us to want to develop the potential of our children to the fullest to ensure that they lead a fulfilling life.
However, we cannot rely on the suggestion that intelligence equals happiness. It is one of the components and building blocks of happiness but intelligence alone does not guarantee happiness. So, do not fret if your children do not score Band 1 or get that elusive A*. In the broader scheme of things, achieving the highest scores in examinations does not really matter.
To me as an educator, what matters most is that we as parents provide as many opportunities as possible to develop the intelligence of the children. This will go a long way to help our children grow into balanced individual with rich inner lives to enable them to access all forms of information, arts and sciences and to carve out their future, the way they see fit.
Let's talk more about intelligence, shall we? Click on next!
I am in the final stages of completing my new book: Nurturing Intelligence: A 12-Month Guide to Developing Listening, Reading, Speaking, Thinking and Writing Skills of Pre-schoolers. There is no real distinction in nurturing ‘IQ’ and ‘EQ’. What affects the mind affects the heart too, and vice versa. Invariably, we attend to both in the course of developing our children’s literacy and thinking skills through collaborative learning.
You do not need a degree but you do need a good command of the language, time, patience and love for reading to children, individually and collectively. Start reading groups so that the parents can take turns to engage with the children at the intellectual and emotional levels. You will find it most exhilarating, one which will be a most important bonding experience for parents and children.
What is Intelligence?
I do not wish you to cloud your mind with theoretical issues but it is necessary to understand the essentials. I recommend the inductive teaching approach, meaning we derive the principles from our teaching experience. Besides instinct, we also collect information and draw conclusions from what we observe to help us better nurture our children. Such an approach makes room for differences in interests, values and personality. However, in nurturing the intelligence of children, it is useful to have an idea of what this means in the theoretical sense of the word so that we can apply it in the practical sense.
There are a variety of theories to explain the nature of intelligence. A few central theorists have emerged in the last 100 years. They include the following:
Charles Spearman, British psychologist (1863-1945)
Spearman describes a concept he refers to as general intelligence or the g factor which he argues can be measured using some standardised mental aptitude tests. He concludes that intelligence is general mental ability that could be measured and numerically expressed.
Louis L Thurstone, American psychologist (1887-1955)
Thurstone improves on Spearman’s g factor concept and identifies the seven different primary mental abilities in his research on intelligence. They include the ability to negotiate spoken and written texts, reason, perceive, visualize, associate meanings, use words fluently and understand mathematical concepts. This means that individuals could exhibit intelligence in some areas but not necessarily in all.
Howard Gardner, American psychologist (1943-)
According to Howard Gardner (Frames of Mind, 1983), a psychologist and professor at Harvard University and Co-Director of Harvard Project Zero, "An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings”.
Robert Sternberg, American psychologist (1949-)
In tandem with his fellow American theorists, Sternberg views intelligence as broader than a single cognitive ability that can be tested. He suggests that intelligence comprises three different components: analytical, creative and practical.
How is intelligence really defined? Click on next to read about it.
The definitions of intelligence vary from one theorist to the next. However, it is fair to suggest that on the whole, intelligence requires the ability to do the following:
- Acquire knowledge: This refers to the ability to acquire, retain and use knowledge for various activities to achieve various purposes.
- Recognise problems: This refers to the ability to identify the problems and assess the type of knowledge required to address the issue.
- Solve problems: This refers to the ability to access and apply the knowledge necessary to solve the problems.
Nurturing the intelligence of your children may appear overwhelming at the beginning. However, let me assure you that in your own inimitable way, you have already started doing that. In the next 10 articles, I will share with you my personal journey on nurturing the intelligences of 10 pre-schoolers in Sydney. You will be amazed at the unintended outcomes. Children are inspirational and they have much to contribute to nurturing our soul and spirit, even as we endeavour to fortify their hearts and minds to savour the good and beautiful in the world.
Come on board and let us start a conversation. Email me your thoughts or your questions at and let us embark on this exhilarating journey together. I will be visiting Singapore in March and would love to have a chat with anyone who is keen to get the ball rolling.