SOURCE: Dr. Gail Gross Ph.D., Ed.D.

Dr. Gail Gross Ph.D., Ed.D.

November 25, 2013 14:22 ET

Parents Can Boost Their Children's IQ With One Priceless Gift: Their Time

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - November 25, 2013) - Most parents would say learning is a high priority in their family, but few know they can help their children get an extra boost in IQ -- as much as 20 percent, according to Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D. in psychology and Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction. Gross isn't talking about dinnertime testing or morning memory drills. Rather, parents can help their elementary school children reduce stress and thus boost cognitive skills by doing just the opposite: offering them "free" time -- non-goal oriented attention and availability.

"Parents are the number one, most effective de-stressors in a child's life," says Gross, who found that academic and social performance in 4th graders skyrocketed when parents shared small increments of non-agenda driven time. Gross's research studied a diverse group of American children in their school and home environments. When children could look forward to and participate in regular activities with their parents -- taking a walk, playing games, or reading together without interruptions -- their stress levels dropped, their academic performance jumped, and their ability to handle themselves socially improved. The reverse was also true: higher stress, due to what, for many parents, is "normal life" -- over-scheduling and irregular sleep -- can actually do harm to children during the sensitive early childhood and tween years. According to Dr. Gross, a calm and engaging home environment can affect everything from academic performance to social behavior. Activities that foster listening and empathy, and reduce stress, go a long way for families.

While many parents feel they are conscious, loving and committed, few include time to just "be" with their children, and miss out on the education and health benefits of doing so. One immediate benefit, according to Dr. Gross's research, is the reduction of stress in their children's lives, which assaults a young brain's organization and development, and impairs learning for years after. Finding time to just be together -- even 20 minutes -- is easier said than done for modern families, Gross admits. Balancing work, school, and extra curricular schedules is one set of challenges; creating mental space for a mutually positive experience is another. "As busy adults, we have two modes: fast and stop. If parents can hit stop and find 20 minutes to go slowly with their children, the benefits on learning -- and family stress reduction -- are well worth it." 

To help families find the time, Dr. Gross devoted an area of her website to tuning in for families interested in learning how they can enhance their time together. More information about Dr. Gross's research, and her solutions, can be found at www.drgailgross.com.

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