Did Isaac Newton’s mother know that her son had an extremely high IQ of 192—among only one percent of the population with an intelligence quotient of higher than 136? Did she suspect that he’d grow up to be one of the most influential scientists of all time? Probably not, as she actually took him out of school in his early teenage years in hopes that he would become a farmer like his late father.
But according to Mensa, “the high IQ society,” there are signs parents can look for that indicate their children may have a higher than average IQ. Check out the list below to see how many describe your child!
Highly intelligent children often exhibit some of the following traits:
1. Excellent Memory
Clearly, a good memory is important for children to learn and retain new information, both in school and at home. In fact, according to psychologist and author Tracy Packiam Alloway, “working memory is linked not just to learning (from kindergarten to college), but for decision making in everyday activities.” One word of warning, studies indicate that kids with good memories are also better at lying!
2. Early Reading Skills
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body,” wrote English essayist Joseph Addison. On average, extremely intelligent kids begin to sight-read before the age of four, while most kids are closer to the age of six or seven before they reach this milestone. There are many stages of reading, and children must learn to recognize and understand words before they can begin to read on their own. Some kids may discover the joy of reading later in life, but once they begin reading, intelligent kids are often hooked.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “curiosity is as important as intelligence,” and having an inquisitive mind is a good indicator of success. Children who ask a lot of questions are demonstrating an innate desire to learn. As they seek out opportunities to learn wherever they are, they further develop their minds and intellect.
4. Sense of Humor
Historians often remark about Abraham Lincoln’s witty sense of humor. When accused of being two-faced in a presidential debate, Lincoln replied, “Honestly, if I were two-faced, would I be showing you this one?” Many of Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes are the funny quips that revealed his wit. Though his humor could be cutting, he also had a way with words. “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put,” he joked. Don’t discourage your child’s sense of humor; it could be a sign of greatness!
5. Musical Ability
Studies show a link between being musical and being intelligent, and researchers believe that children benefit academically when they receive a music education. All parents should expose their children to music at a young age, even if they do not have a particular musical talent. Researchers believe that musical training impacts the brain and unlocks the ability for creative thinking.
6. Sets High Standards
Smart kids—and successful adults—tend to set a high bar for themselves. They have an instinctual need to improve and do better in areas that matter to them. This drive also assists them in learning new skills and school subjects to the best of their ability. Being hyper-focused in specific areas of interest can also be a sign of a high IQ.
7. Talkative with Adults
Gifted children are often described as “little adults” because of their early maturity, a greater awareness of current events, and their inclination to chat with adults rather than other children. A particularly bright child may be the one who chats with the adults at a birthday party rather than playing with the other kids. Enjoying conversation and talking about a variety of subjects is also a sign of intelligence in kids.
Even if a child doesn’t currently demonstrate some of these signs of a high IQ, he or she could still be a future genius. Experts disagree on whether a person is born a genius or develops into one over time, but most agree that nurture—the child’s positive environment—has a lot to do with their future abilities and chances of success. In Outliers: The Story of Success Malcolm Gladwell wrote, “. . . the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight.” All children have potential to reach their own version of brilliance and success. “We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds,” Gladwell writes in the book, “But do we know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down the roots . . . ?” That’s where moms, dads, and other supportive adults come in!
You can develop your child’s inner genius by providing a nurturing environment for learning. Make sure your kids are reading, getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and are always open to learning. Just being an involved parent will go a long way to ensure your child’s future success.
If you are concerned that your child isn’t being challenged at school, consider enrolling him or her in an online school, which offers a rigorous curriculum and a more flexible schedule. Many K12 partner schools offer Advanced Learner Programs that align with the guidelines established by the National Association for Gifted Children. These gifted and talented programs can better optimize each child’s learning experience.