1) Music Lessons
Plain and simple: research show music lessons make kids smarter: Compared with children in the control groups, children in the music groups exhibited greater increases in full-scale IQ. The effect was relatively small, but it generalized across IQ subtests, index scores, and a standardized measure of academic achievement.
In fact, musical training helps everyone, young and old:
A growing body of research finds musical training gives students learning advantages in the classroom. Now a Northwestern University study finds musical training can benefit Grandma, too, by offsetting some of the deleterious effects of aging.
(More on what the music you love says about you here.)
2) The Dumb Jock Is A Myth
Dumb jocks are dumb because they spend more time on the field than in the library. But what if you make sure your child devotes time to both?
Being in good shape increases your ability to learn. After exercise people pick up new vocabulary words 20% faster.
Indeed, in a 2007 study of humans, German researchers found that people learn vocabulary words 20 percent faster following exercise than they did before exercise and that the rate of learning correlated directly with levels of BDNF.
A 3-month exercise regimen increased blood flow to the part of the brain focused on memory and learning by 30%.
In his study, Small put a group of volunteers on a three-month exercise regimen and then took pictures of their brains… What he saw was that the capillary volume in the memory area of the hippocampus increased by 30 percent, a truly remarkable change.
(More on how exercise can make you and your kids smarter and happier here.)
3) Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them
Got a little one who is learning to read? Don’t let them just stare at the pictures in a book while you do all the reading.
Call attention to the words. Read with them, not to them.
it helps build their reading skills:
…when shared book reading is enriched with explicit attention to the development of children’s reading skills and strategies, then shared book reading is an effective vehicle for promoting the early literacy ability even of disadvantaged children.
4) Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid
Missing an hour of sleep turns a sixth grader’s brain into that of a fourth grader.
“A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explained.
There is a correlation between grades and the average amount of sleep.
Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged fifteen more minutes than the C’s, and so on. Wahlstrom’s data was an almost perfect replication of results from an earlier study of over 3,000 Rhode Island high schoolers by Brown’s Carskadon. Certainly, these are averages, but the consistency of the two studies stands out. Every fifteen minutes counts.
(More on how to sleep better here.)