When my daughter was born, people asked if I planned to subject her to Baby Genius videos, flash cards and other "brain-developing" products to stimulate her interest in the sciences (my chosen profession). This made me laugh. Let's face it, probably no one of my generation (tail end of the baby boom) was exposed to, let alone drilled with, such materials. Our moms had enough challenges trying to help us with our New Math homework.
Girls are highly suited to doing just about anything; it's our goal as parents to empower them, not limit them. Just as my parents did, my strategies for encouraging my daughter's intellectual growth include letting her explore, experiment and enjoy science. By spending a lot of quality time and very little money, my parents exposed me to many possibilities and developed my overall competence and initiative. Here are some ideas from my own experience that don't require sophisticated educational training or lots of expensive lessons or equipment:
- Talk to your kids and read to them; limit TV, videos and computer games. Read to them or give them books about exploration, explorers, discoveries and perseverance in the face of doubt.
Benefits: Develops language skills and interest in reading.
- Keep a home library of nature guides and/or magazines. Use them to identify critters, trees and plants in your neighborhood and nearby parks. Set up bird feeders with different seeds to attract a variety of birds. Invent ways to keep the squirrels off! Observe how plant life changes with the seasons. Learn to identify and avoid poison ivy. Learn about nature in other parts of the world.
Benefits: Fosters inquisitiveness, research and inventive problem solving.