Raising smart children: How one mum created a love of learning at home

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A mum teaching her children at home. (Courtesy/iStock)

Winnie Nyambane is a mother of two – a seven-year-old son and a girl aged four years. Makori, the son has a quiet and reserved personality. He hates any form of active sports but loves football and is an ardent follower of Manchester United. 

On the other hand, Makori’s sister, Nina is a happy little angel, a very playful girl. She loves playing hide and seek. Nina loves teasing her mother and while she will not cry when being punished for some wrongdoing, she will cry her eyes sore when seeking attention from her mother. 

“My children have diverse characteristics, each one intelligent and smart in diverse ways, and with the help of their teachers, I try to tap their talents with the hope that I will raise Makori and Nina to be smart kids,” says 36-year-old Winnie. 

According to Philomena Kanini a child psychologist, to raise smart children, parents need to foster a growth mindset and ensure a balanced lifestyle with proper nutrition, sleep, and physical activity for overall development. 

“The early years in the life of a child are critical as this is when the child is opening their mind, a stage when they are active, full of curiosity, and therefore it is important that as a parent you do not suppress their curiosity,” says the therapist. 

She urges parents to tap into this curiosity and foster a love for learning by encouraging their children’s natural curiosity.

“Answer their questions and explore topics together as a family as this action builds a foundation for lifelong learning and critical thinking,” says the expert. 

Instilling a love of reading

Parents, she says, should establish reading habits and routines by choosing books to stimulate imagination and language skills. To make this a success, the parents should discuss stories and story ideas to enhance comprehension and communication. 

Engage your child in activities that require thinking and problem-solving, such as puzzles and strategy games. According to the expert, this will improve the child’s cognitive skills and ability to handle complex situations. 

Kanini says parents should encourage participation in diverse activities like music, sports, and arts as these will foster creativity, discipline, and teamwork, thus contributing to overall intellectual and personal growth. 

In this era of mobile phones and technology, the Psychologist advises parents to set boundaries on the usage of electronic devices to ensure balanced development. "Do this by encouraging alternative activities like reading, outdoor play, and hobbies that stimulate the mind,” she says.

Winnie says, with the help of Makori’s and Nina’s teachers, she has designated a quiet, well-lit space for studying and learning to engage Nina.

“I have equipped this space with books, educational toys, and resources to support academic and creative pursuits,” says the single mother. 

To ensure that she raises smart kids, Winnie researches the topic from experts, (Kanini recommends this), and this helps her to learn and demonstrate a passion for learning by engaging in education activities.

Investing in social actvities

She encourages the children to do the same, after which the family gets together to share their discoveries, showing them that learning is a continuous and enjoyable activity. 

Encourage the children to participate in social gatherings – the Psychologist advises parents to facilitate opportunities for their children to interact with peers and adults. “Social skills are crucial for emotional intelligence, communication, and learning from diverse perspectives,” says Kanini. 

The experts advise parents to ensure their children have a balanced diet rich in  “Healthy eating habits support brain development, concentration, and overall physical and mental health,” Winnie says she has since learnt. 

Celebrate the milestones even without success, she says, parents should not wait to praise their children for their efforts and persistence rather than only for achievements.

“When you praise your children for their efforts and persistence, it builds resilience, a growth mindset, and a willingness to take on challenges,” Kanini says.

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