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Stimulating play increases IQ

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Toddlers who participated in a play program with their mothers ended up with higher IQs, greater educational attainment, and less involvement with violence than kids who did not receive the stimulation.

These results are just the latest to come out of a study program which ended 20 years ago and has tracked the progress of 129 Jamaican toddlers, now adults.

“The most exciting finding this time was the reduction in violent behavior, because that’s something we haven’t shown before,” said Dr. Susan Walker, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of the Wet Indies. They have released three other studies based on data collected from this group.

The kids were divided into four groups back in the 1980s. One group was in a stimulation program where a coach came to show mothers how to play with their children in a stimulating way as well as leaving books and toys for them. Another group got a nutritional supplement. A third group got both and the fourth got nothing. The program lasted two years.

Many years later, they measured a six point difference in IQ between the kids who got the play instruction and the kids who did not. They were also 65% less likely to be involved in violent crime.

Walker hopes that stimulation training and nutritional supplements might one day be as common as vaccinations. “In this context, where there are virtually no toys in the home and maybe not much language interaction, what you do to improve the quality of that mother-child interaction and the engagement in play an be tremendously important,” Walker concluded.

Source: Pediatrics, Reuters


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