I am recording this for posterity.
At 2 years and 3 months, the twins can:
- identify the major colours;
- identify common animals and some of the not-so-common ones, like the flamingo;
- identify fruits;
- identify shapes and state the shape of objects;
- understand the concept of numbers and counting;
- count up to 10 in English, Malay, Spanish and Arabic;
- count objects;
- have a vocabulary that includes words like tusks, beak, clouds, stripes, crane (for construction, not the bird), and excavator
- sing nursery rhymes like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, “Baa-Baa Black Sheep” and “Row Your Boat”
One time, I showed them a photo of a swan that I took in Amsterdam. That same night, we went to a neighbour’s house and Twin1 excitedly exclaimed ‘Swan!’, pointing at a small ceramic swan inside the display cabinet. I never expected them to be able to associate the photo of the real thing with its ceramic equivalent.
That’s not an isolated case. A couple of months ago, they saw a CD with an illustration of the Petronas Twin Towers. Later that week, we were driving past the real thing and the twins excitedly pointed out to me “Twin Towers.” I was surprised how they recognised the actual building based on a simple line illustration of the world-famous landmark.
I’m their mother and tend to be biased, so I dare say that the twins’ recent development has been quite phenomenal ;)
But kidding aside, people often ask me how I raise my children — if there’s a special nutritional supplement that I give them, or a certain book that I use, or a special commercial method that I follow. And I always answer “no”.
Tips on Boosting Children’s Intelligence
Many articles state genetics and the environment to be the main factors that determine a child’s intelligence. Genetics is something that we don’t have much control over. We can, however, provide an environment that will — hopefully — nurture, stimulate and boost our children’s intelligence.
For my part, what I always do is talk to my children constantly, even when they were still infants. Whenever we are in the car, I point out objects to them — bus, car, tree, clouds, balloon. I also read to them a lot, even if all it entails is pointing out details in the pictures and illustrations, as younger children have shorter attention spans. I found this simple method to be very effective for building up their vocabulary. It’s as though they keep all those words in their memory for the first 2 years of their lives and, by the time they start talking, the floodgates open and all those words just come tumbling out.
I have read that some exposure to music early in life can also boost children’s intelligence. Hence, I play the occasional classical music to them, especially during infancy. And I sing to them a lot — nursery rhymes, silly songs that I learned when I was a child, songs from “The Sound of Music” (Do-Re-Mi, My Favourite Things, The Lonely Goatherd) and “Mary Poppins” (Fly A Kite, Stay Awake, Supercallifragilisticexpeallidocious). There’s something about the repetitiveness and the rhyming of the words that makes my children love nursery rhymes so much, especially when I do the hand movements while singing. They make a very captive and appreciative audience, mind you ;)
I’m also always on the lookout for new input — the littlest things like ants marching in the backyard, a spider web, a bird’s nest — which I point out to them and describe to them in as much detail as I can.
I let them touch, smell and feel new objects — sand, flowers, water, fabrics in a textile shop, sheepskin at Ikea — even when they were still babies.
As they get bigger, I explain to them how things work or how things are made (at this point, it helps to watch Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel once in a while!) , in order to arouse their curiosity towards the world around them and to whet their appetite for learning.
I also allow them to ‘help’ me in the kitchen, measuring flour, breaking the eggs into a bowl, stirring the batter, setting up the table. Of course, with three sets of ‘helping hands’ in the kitchen, it can get chaotic sometimes, and ended up in my forgetting certain key ingredients (like sugar!) at one time or another.
Even though a lot of experts frown on TV, I do allow my children to watch TV. But I make it a point to watch TV with them, to make sure there’s nothing objectionable with the content of the shows that they watch. If I see anything that is morally not right, I immediately point it out to them and explain it to them, if I have to, so that they’ll know it’s not okay. I encourage them to watch shows like How Do They Do It or Mythbusters, which they thoroughly enjoy. And — this may sound surprising to many of you — I blocked Cartoon Network because I don’t feel that cartoons like ‘Cow and Chicken’, ‘Ed, Edd and Eddy’ and ‘Tom & Jerry’ are suitable for children. I’ve noticed that my children tend to get more aggressive (i.e. hit each other and fight) when they watch shows like ‘Tom & Jerry’ and ‘Teen Titans’. I personally prefer ‘Blues Clues‘ and ‘Dora The Explorer‘, which entertains kids from 2 to 10, even ‘kids’ in their mid-30’s hehe! ;)
I strongly encourage my children to engage in all forms of play that involves the imagination — to engage in pretend play using whatever materials we have at home, to stare at clouds and think of what they closely resemble, to ask questions that start with “what if…”. So when it comes to toys, wooden blocks and Lego or any other toy that can be joined together or that involves imagination, such as cooking toys, are must-have’s. I even allow my boys to pretend to cook, to a lot of people’s horror, as they say “it’s only for girls”. I also make them homemade play dough from all-purpose flour, cream of tartar, cooking oil, salt and some food colouring.
And yes, I always try to answer their questions, no matter how silly they are. This is no easy feat, as they tend to ask me questions all at the same time!
Finally, I make it a point to ‘catch’ my children doing something right. And when I do, I praise them for it to reinforce such exemplary behaviour. You’ll be surprised at how effective this can be. Very soon, you’ll find them alerting you of the stuff they did, such as putting their clothes in the laundry bin without being told, sharing something with their siblings, stuff like that. It’s a very refreshing change from the kids’ telling me – “Abang pukul Adik” (Big Brother hit Little Brother) or “Kakak tak nak share” (Big Sister doesn’t want to share). Of course, this does not mean that I don’t scold them when I catch them doing something wrong. I still do. But when I put a lot of emphasis on the positive things that they do, I find that they do more of the stuff that earns them praise and hugs and kisses from Mama and less of the stuff that makes Mama go mad ;)