Why you should care
Because who doesn’t want a peek into how a child’s mind works?
Can you predict your child’s intelligence from his or her awkward preschool doodles? Yes, says a study done at King’s College London: Sketches by kids as young as 4 can be a clue to their later intelligence.
The results drew from the Twins Early Development Study , a project that pulled together more than 10,000 families with twins born in the mid-’90s in order to study nature vs. nurture questions. The twins are old enough now that researchers can compare their early development with their later school success, or lack thereof.
Identical twins draw more similarly than fraternal pairs, and the drawings were linked to later parallel intelligence.
And so they looked at the kids’ early drawings, and then at their success, or lack thereof, in school. They rated the early depictions of people on a scale of 1 to 12, with 12 being the most realistic. Realistic, in this case, doesn’t mean Rembrandt-esque figures on canvas, but rather the existence of the basics: eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms and legs. Depicting all four limbs on paper, as well as facial features — even abstract, scribbly ones — translated into higher IQs by age 14.
Certain correlations, researchers say, come from the genes. Identical twins draw more similarly than fraternal pairs, and the drawings were linked to later parallel intelligence. Of course, many factors besides genes combine to determine our intelligence, says Dr. Rosalind Arden, lead author of a paper on the topic.
Still, toddlerhood isn’t too early to start. The next time your 4-year-old picks up a pen and scrawls on the walls, reprimand her, sure, but take a closer look before you wipe away the “art.” You might find a clue into how her mind works in a surprising fashion.