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Every parent dreams of smart children. And to some extent, intelligence is a matter of the luck of the draw. But whatever the natural abilities of your child, you can help him or her become even smarter. You can take simple steps to prepare your youngsters for school and for life.

The first and most important thing to do to make your kids smarter is to read to them. Nothing will ever beat reading for learning knew information and becoming well educated. Reading is truly a skill that is basic to life and to all levels of education. More than the information that your child will learn as you read to them, you will be instilling a love of reading in your child. Then, as they grow older, they will seek out books on their own, out of love for books and out of habit.

The second thing you can do for your child is to speak to them about the things they are learning about. When they take geography in school, tell them about what is currently going on in the places they are studying. When they learn about chemistry, talk about the advances that chemists are discovering and how those advances are helping people. Help your child to see the practical applications of knowledge in the world around them. And ask your child to teach you what they are learning. Research has shown that when one teaches someone else information, the teacher learns the information better than they knew it before. And lets be honest, what kid would pass up the chance to teach their parents a thing or two? Your children will be willing, and even excited to tell you what they know.

A third thing you can do for your child is to gear them toward activities that are both fun and educational. Science camp or space camp are good examples. A summer reading club where they read books and discuss them with other students is another good example. When traveling, visit the museums in the city of your destination. See historic monuments whenever you can. Try to watch educational TV programs whenever possible when the TV is on. Get educational computer games-- like Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego? Watch educational movies, like Schindler's List.

A fourth way to help your child to become smart is to encourage them so that they are confident. Many children who have the capacity to learn do not do so because they don't believe in their own abilities. They give up. If these children would only try harder, if they would only continue the journey or education, they would learn. They need only to be shown that success is a possibility, and that someone believes in their success.

Finally, take an active role in your child's life at school. Go to parent teacher night. Whenever your child struggles in a class or doesn't understand something, have a parent teacher conference and see how you can help. Monitor grades closely, and ask teachers to send progress reports if they see problems before grades are due. Get to know the teachers, staff, and principal of their school. And show your child that succeeding in school is praiseworthy.

Essentially, the key to making your child smart is making them committed to learning and to education. The best-- and only-- way to do this is to demonstrate a commitment to their education yourself. If a parent child team is mutually committed to education, nothing can hold them back.