As well as making sure that children are happy and well-loved, every parent’s wish is for their kids to mature into intelligent people. Showing promise in their school studies is something every parent is proud of, but others may want to nurture their child’s intelligence even further with an IQ test, particularly if it appears that their child is showing signs of being gifted at a young age.
So, how do you find out the average IQ of, say, a 10 year old? First of all, we need to know how IQ is calculated. IQ is measured by dividing a person’s mental age by their chronological age (in this case, 10 years old) and then multiplying this number by 100. For example, a child with an IQ reading of 100 would be classed as average intelligence, since their chronological age would match their mental age (10/10 x 100 = 100). So the average IQ of a 10 year old is 100.
Many factors can determine a 10 year old’s mental age such as verbal ability and spatial reasoning and those that rank higher in these skills than the average 10 year old will be considered to have a higher mental age and therefore, a higher IQ. A 10 year old scoring 130, for example, will have a mental age of 13 (13/10 x 100 = 130). To learn more about your child’s IQ and ways you can encourage their ability, keep reading.
How can I Tell if My Child Has a High IQ?
For a 10 year old child to be considered ‘gifted’ or of possessing higher than average intelligence, their mental age needs to be significantly higher than their chronological age (as above-mentioned). A legitimate IQ test conducted by a psychologist will be able to confirm whether or not your child has a high IQ, but aside from getting a professional assessment of their intelligence levels, there are a few signs you can look for in your child that may indicate a high IQ.
Signs of High IQ in Children
- Excellent memory
- Thirst for reading
- Musical ability and appreciation
- Strong or unusual sense of humor
- Talkative among adults
Is My 10 Year Old Gifted?
So you’ve spotted signs of a high IQ in your child – but how can you be sure that they are ‘gifted’? According to statistics by the National Association for Gifted Children, those in the top tier of IQ ratings typically score 130 and higher. This top tier accounts for only 2-3 percent of the child population, so if your 10 year old were to receive an IQ score within this top tier bracket, this can definitely be considered highly impressive. An especially impressive IQ score, however, and one the Association for Gifted Children might consider ‘gifted’ levels of intelligence, is a score of 145. This only occurs in around 1 in every 1,000 children.
It’s important to note that IQ alone does not measure all forms of intelligence, so a high IQ won’t always necessarily reflect a gifted child. According to the National Association for Gifted Children, a child’s ‘giftedness’ can be more accurately identified by your child’s traits rather than statistics, such as developing a very specific interest or showing great aptitude in a certain category of learning. For example, excelling at the violin at a young age or mastering complex math equations long before their peers can be indicators of a gifted personality.
Possible Signs of a Gifted Child
Gifted children may not possess all of the following signs, but below are some of the common traits found in a gifted child:
Highly sensitive – heightened sensitivity in a child may not reflect academic excellence in the way that other traits of being ‘gifted’ point to, but some gifted children tend to be more sensitive to the world around them, both physically and mentally. Psychologist Kazimierz Dabrowski characterized this sensitivity as a gifted child’s “over-excitabilities” – which might see children cry over trivial things or become irritated by labels and tags on clothing.
Enjoys challenges and problem-solving – gifted children love to be challenged in their learning and become motivated to learn by facing new challenges, such as flexing their problem-solving skills. In this sense, many gifted children find natural motivation within themselves, rather than because of a teacher’s influence. So even if your child is not excelling in their school grades, they may still have a desire to stimulate their intellect at home in subjects they find interesting and challenging.
Extremely skilled in one (or multiple) areas – a clichéd image we carry around in our minds of a gifted child is normally of one who can play multiple musical instruments, but a keen interest in music or art is not the only signifier of a gifted child. Gifted children may also demonstrate extreme reading skills, such as a 3 year old at the reading level of a third grader, for example or attain a specific skill that is normally only achieved at adulthood in others.
Can I Boost My 10 Year Old’s IQ?
Your child’s overall intelligence levels can be boosted as they develop by making sure they get the right nutrition, plenty of exercise and enough stimulating play time that encourages problem-solving and social skills. But how can you actually boost their IQ? As a parent, there are plenty of things you can do to encourage your 10 year old’s intellectual potential. Realistically, however, you cannot necessarily force them to learn at a faster rate than their brain will naturally allow them to.
Professor of Psychology at the University of California Ross A. Thompson suggests that many parents show unnecessary anxiety when it comes to their child’s IQ rate: “It’s a classic American concern – how to accelerate my kids learning. Many parents believe that if their children learn fast early, they will remain accelerated. But children learn bets at a natural rate. Those who show early advances settle out by the time they reach grade school and others catch up.”
Professor Thompson stresses that the early years of a child’s development definitely matter, but that parents shouldn’t necessarily expect their children to run before they can walk in intellectual terms: “Lower circuits in the brain must be built before higher circuits, and advanced skills must be based on basic skills.” So what are some of these basic skills you can work on with your child before you can see advanced skills grow?
You may have been told that you need fancy toys and gadgets to boost your child’s IQ, but many scientific studies recommend that things like self-discipline, good sleep and simply introducing your child to new experiences every once in a while will yield more effective results. Here are a few ways of naturally stimulating your child’s intellect:
Give them music lessons – recent studies have found a link between regular music lessons and an increase in children’s IQ. Researchers in the Netherlands followed the progress of Dutch school children, and those who received regular music lessons in between their normal subjects showed an increase in overall cognitive ability, with specific improvements to their verbal IQ.
Teach self-discipline – when it boils down to it, good grades have a lot more to do with your child’s willingness and self-motivation to learn rather than a high IQ score. This is why providing your kids with structure and demonstrating your own self-discipline to them (and the rewards that come with it) can be vital in boosting their intellectual ability. Children with greater willpower will resist the pull of TV or games until homework or other priorities have been attended to first.
Encourage regular fitness – it may sound counter-productive to boosting IQ, but sometimes one of the best natural ways of improving a child’s intellect is to take them out of the classroom and away from their study books once in a while to get exercise! According to a 2007 study, researchers in Germany found that participants learned vocabulary words 20 percent faster after exercise than if they had done none at all. So regular fitness can literally help you become smarter!
Ensure good quality sleep – you know the sluggish, foggy brained feeling you get when you miss sleep as an adult? Imagine how much worse the effects of poor sleep can be on your child who is still developing. Getting good quality sleep can mean all the difference to your child’s grades and overall cognitive performance since regular bouts of sleep deprivation can dull their concentration and actually slow their development.
Encouraging Gifted Children
Having a gifted child is a wonderful thing, but for parents, striking the right balance between nurturing their intellect and keeping a safe distance can sometimes be difficult. You want to see your son or daughter act on their amazing potential and achieve all they can, but at the same time, it’s natural to feel wary about pushing them too far and giving them too much pressure at such a young age. If you’re concerned about the best way of parenting a gifted child, take a look at the following DO and DON’t techniques of raising a gifted child…
DO’s and DON’Ts of raising a gifted child:
- DON’T set unrealistic expectations – learning is a process, even for intellectually gifted children, so parents should never set unrealistic expectations upon their children with the belief that they are mature enough to handle the pressure. Your child should be encouraged in certain subjects because it interests them, not to impress anyone or set records.
- DO challenge their intellect outside of school – since your gifted child may not always find their school’s teaching methods stimulating, be sure to give them plenty of opportunities to grow and learn in a non-school setting too. Inspiring them to pursue a new hobby or take up a musical instrument can help your child learn through “active engagement” as educational consultant Pat Wolfe describes it. “The brain is the only organ in the body that sculpts itself through experience.”
- DON’T forget their role as a child – gifted or not, you are still talking about a child who needs your support and protection. Parents of gifted children can often get carried away with helping their child reach academic goals that they place unnecessary burdens on the child. Never forget the child and parent dynamic in your relationship, no matter how mature you view them to be.
- DON’T compare your gifted child to their siblings – it should go without saying that setting comparisons between siblings is a harmful thing for any parent to do, but in the case of a gifted child, putting them on a pedestal will harm the gifted one as much as their siblings (if not more). Highlighting your child’s unique achievements may actually cause them to tone down their abilities for fear of being disliked or singled out by their siblings and peers.
What if My 10 Year Old Has a Low Mental Age?
If your child’s mental age is moderately or significantly lower than their chronological age – e.g. a 10 year old with a mental age of around 6 or 7 years old – then this may mean they face greater difficulty with communication and problem-solving compared with their peers. According to the Academy of American Pediatrics, intellectual disability affects close to 6.5 million people in the US, and around 545,000 of those affected are between 6 and 21 years old.
Children with intellectual difficulties may have IQ scores between 70 and as low as 55 in severe cases. (This sits a little below the average IQ range of the population, according to American Mensa, which sits between 85 and 115 for the majority of kids and adults). However, your child does not need to simply have a low IQ to be considered to be intellectually disabled.
Signs of intellectual disability
- Having a low attention span
- Learning to talk later than their peers or having trouble speaking
- Difficulty understanding social rules and etiquette
- Have difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions
- Have trouble with problem-solving and logical reasoning
A pediatric specialist will be able to further evaluate your child for the above signs and provide advice tailored to your child’s intellectual potential. In the meantime, don’t lose heart if you believe your child to have one or more of the aforementioned signs of intellectual disability as there are plenty of support networks in place for children of all abilities. The good news is that, at 10 years old, your child has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to their intellectual development.
Did you know that the total intelligence of a child will continue to increase until around age 16 at the point when the child’s brain reaches maturity? Even then, the rational part of a teenager’s brain won’t be fully developed until around age 25. Read some of the following tips on how to help and encourage a child with a learning disability at home and at school.
How Parents can Help Slow Learners
Seek the school’s assistance – have a talk with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is getting the assistance they need during class if they feel stuck or left behind. The school may run separate after-school classes to help support slow learners. If your child prefers, you could talk with their teacher about letting a fellow classmate help them as being tutored by a friend of the same age can actually be encouraging for slower learners.
Introduce fun tools and games – teaching methods that work well for some kids may not always work well for your child, which is why giving them innovative and fun ways to learn can be ideal for getting them excited and engaged in the learning process. Have a mix of board games and activity sheets around the house as an alternative to their phones and TV. If they are struggling in a certain subject area, for example, pick a fun literacy or math solving game to do together.
Praise their efforts – reminding your child of their progress and allowing them to celebrate each small milestone in their learning can provide them with a much-needed confidence boost. Showing that you appreciate their achievement instills a sense of victory in them to repeat positive behaviors.
Be patient – lastly, but most important of all, have patience in your child’s rate of learning. Showing a realistic understanding of your child’s strengths and weaknesses can help you tailor your approach to helping them with homework so that you are working around their short attention span rather than against it.
Mike Zhang. Founder of FamilyLifeShare