Does A Child’s IQ Increase With Age (Can An IQ Increase With Age)?

Educating a child is very much a cumulative process. The child starts off with the basics, and they continue to build on what they’ve learned so far year-on-year.

If, as in most countries around the world, they are taught in a school, you can compare the child’s progress against their peers, and learn how quickly they catch on and how well they understand what they are being taught.

And it is commonly thought that, although it can be tested at a younger age, the best time to test IQ in children is between the ages of 5 and 8.

And as they progress through this process of education in a wide variety of subjects, we ask more and more of them.

Intensifying the questions over and over, making them more complex, introducing less familiar words, challenging them, so we can see them at their very best.

And they follow suit. The more they learn, the more practiced they become at these challenges, and the more able they are to impress us with their smarts.

So, this begs the question, “Does/can a child’s IQ increase with age?”

It sure can seem that way. One day you’re teaching them “The cat sat on the mat”, and before you know it, they know trigonometry, the difference between meiosis and mitosis, and Flemming’s left-hand rule of electromagnetism.

Yes, they can certainly become more knowledgeable over time, but are they becoming smarter?

And certainly there are many skills children learn in school that definitely become better with practice, such as reading, writing and mathematics. But is that the same thing as improving their IQ?

Does/Can a child’s IQ increase with age?

Let’s take a look at the science behind IQ…

Now, traditionally, IQ has been viewed as somewhat static. And the assumption was that once given a suitable test for IQ, their true IQ is determined, and that level of IQ was set for life.

And knowing your IQ, especially in relation to standard IQs, can be particularly useful for children and teachers…

For the teachers, they are able to put children into different groups for their schooling based on their level of ability.

That way, more able pupils get the push that they need to really excel, and the less able aren’t left to feel that they’re too well behind their peers.

And knowing your IQ or ability level is good for pupils, too, especially when they are teenagers and need to start thinking about their potential careers and direction in life.

So many young children love the idea of becoming a doctor or a veterinarian, or a lawyer. But such careers require top grades and real intelligence.

Interestingly, however, research published by the journal Nature reports a test that was carried out on teenagers that proves that a child’s verbal and non-verbal IQ can either increase or decrease in the teenage years.

(There have been other tests on this, but in the interest of brevity, we won’t go into them all here.)

So, a child’s IQ is not static, and it can increase with age. But this is not necessarily automatic. And it can go the other way, too.

This is ground-breaking stuff, with significant implications.

Discussion Points

So, now that we know that a child’s IQ is not static and can be altered for better or worse, the question becomes “What can determine a change in IQ?”.

Increasing A Child’s IQ

As we touched upon earlier, certain skills can be practiced over and over until they become automatic. This can include reading, writing, mathematics, and passing tests and exams.

And when you consider the relatively recent interest in “brain training”, there is clearly a commonly held belief that the more a child engages in academic tasks the more they will improve, and the better able they are to excel in such tasks, including IQ tests.

So, this means that we should never write off those children with lower IQ test scores. You can think of the test score as a starting point, rather than a cause for concern.

Besides, knowing that a child’s IQ can be improved is far more motivating than the idea that it cannot. And it can encourage them in their studies, and help to bring them the best grades they can manage.

Decreasing A Child’s IQ

But, we should not lose sight of the opposite scenario. Research has shown that a child’s IQ can also decrease over time.

Unfortunately, there is no solid explanation as to why this might happen, but we might speculate that significant stressors in a child’s life may have an effect.

For example, children whose parents break up, or children who are moved from school to school, often see drops in their test scores in school.

So, if your child does start to perform more poorly in school following a change of circumstances that may have affected their mental health, you are right to be lenient with them and try to understand.

And remember, a dip in academic performance is hardly a death sentence, and they can get their performance up again when the time is right.

Where To Go From Here

All in all, this finding is very encouraging, and also highly motivating.

You would do well as a parent to convey these findings to your child to encourage them to work in their studies, and to always try their best. Your job is to instill them with the best possible mindset and attitude.

Never put them down if they make a mistake, simply encourage them to keep at it until they get the right kind of result for them. And if they’re having a hard time for any reason, please don’t get on their case about their school work.

Simply praise them when they do well, and don’t ever discourage them if they start to show a drop in performance.

IQ is movable, and improving it can and should be encouraged.