homeschool children studying a butterfly in nature study

Unveiling Genius: Enhancing Your Child’s Intelligence

Can we make our children smart?

Cultivating Intelligence

Catholic homeschooling parents are on a profound journey not only to educate their children academically but also to nurture their hearts and souls. Part of this endeavor involves cultivating intelligence. But what exactly is intelligence? Ask yourself what truly makes a child smart and how we can enhance these essential skills and attitudes in our children. I would argue that it encompasses curiosity, observation skills, a thirst for discovery, and a joyful engagement with learning (study).

“Curiosity and situational interest are powerful driving forces in learning and motivation that lead students to learn more effectively” Cambridge Handbook of Motivation and Learning.

Following are eight attributes to focus on in your homeschool. These will help create a more vibrant learning environment, cultivate a love of learning, and, yes, make those kiddos smarter!


At the heart of intelligence lies curiosity, that insatiable hunger to understand the world and its mysteries. Curiosity drives children to explore, question, and seek answers. It sparks their imagination, ignites their passion for learning, and propels them on a journey of discovery. As homeschooling parents, fostering curiosity involves creating an environment rich in exploration and wonder.

Action Item: Be a role model by showing your children that you’re curious about the world. When you see a spark of curiosity in your child’s eyes, follow their lead and encourage their interest.


Moreover, the desire to discover new things intertwines with curiosity, propelling children to venture beyond the familiar and embrace the unknown. By nurturing this desire, parents empower their children to embrace challenges, push boundaries, and unlock their full potential.

Action Item: Introduce children to new environments such as museums, nature centers, zoos, etc. Present diverse subjects and motivate children to pursue new interests to instill a love for lifelong learning.


Observation skills, honed through an attentive awareness of the world around us, are another cornerstone of intelligence. Teach your children to observe not only with their eyes but also with their hearts—to find God’s beauty in the ordinary, recognize patterns in chaos, and draw insights from their surroundings. Go on nature walks, explore the wonders of creation, and cultivate a spirit of contemplation that fosters deep reflection and insight.

Action Item: Take children on nature walks. Encourage them to take their time and look for insects, animals, plants, etc. Bring along field guides and have children draw pictures or journal about their finds upon arriving home.

Ask Questions

Asking “why” is a powerful catalyst for intellectual growth, prompting children to dive beneath the surface and uncover underlying truths. Encourage older children to question, challenge assumptions, and seek understanding beyond superficial explanations through Socratic discussions. Every question is an invitation to embark on a journey of discovery. And, as a homeschooling parent, you are there to guide your child to the answers. This will help your children understand why we believe what we believe rather than just parroting.

Action Item: Encourage your children to ask questions, ponder the mysteries of faith and science, and embark on intellectual adventures that expand their horizons. Meet those questions with enthusiasm and find the answers together.

Discernment and Purpose

Equally important is the ability to find answers and navigate the vast sea of knowledge with discernment and purpose. Teach your children the value of research, critical thinking, and discerning truth from falsehood. Equip them with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of the modern world, sift through information overload, and discern the voice of wisdom amidst the clamor of competing voices.

Action Item: During your read-aloud time, include stories that have good examples of wise choices or, conversely, show the consequences of poor choices. Talk with children about potentially harmful real-life situations and examples of how to respond.

Organizational Skills

Organizational skills provide the scaffolding upon which intelligence flourishes. They allow children to manage their time, resources, and priorities effectively. Cultivate habits of diligence, discipline, and responsibility, instilling in your children a sense of order that fosters focus, efficiency, and productivity. Encourage them to set goals, plan their tasks, and persevere in facing challenges, knowing that success is often born of perseverance and determination.

Action Item: To-do lists can help children set goals and prioritize tasks. Sit down with your child each night to make a to-do list for the next day. Help children break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.

Pursuit of Knowledge

A positive attitude toward learning infuses the pursuit of knowledge with joy, transforming education from a chore into a delight. Foster a spirit of enthusiasm, curiosity, and optimism, celebrating each new discovery, milestone achieved, and lesson learned. Cultivate a love for learning that transcends the confines of the classroom, infusing every aspect of life with wonder, meaning, and purpose.

Action Item: Let your children see your face light up when you learn something new—emotions are contagious!

Learn from Failure

Experiencing failure can be a tough but valuable lesson. When lessons don’t go as planned, it’s natural to feel disappointed or frustrated. However, it’s important to help children see failure as an opportunity for growth and understanding. By facing setbacks, children learn resilience, problem-solving, and perseverance. Encouraging them to reflect on what went wrong and how they can improve shows how mistakes are part of learning. We always learned more from our failed kitchen-table science experiments because it forced us to stop and ask: Why?

Action Item: When you or your child fail, don’t despair. Instead, ask, “Why did this happen?” and “What can we do differently next time?”


Parents play a pivotal role in shaping their children’s intellect and character through the tapestry of Catholic homeschooling. By nurturing curiosity, fostering a thirst for discovery, honing observation skills, encouraging questioning, teaching how to find answers, and cultivating organizational skills, homeschooling parents empower their children to become intelligent and compassionate individuals who embrace the adventure of learning and the beauty of Truth.

Ultimately, intelligence is not merely a product of genetics or environment but a dynamic interplay of innate potential and nurturing care. As Catholic homeschooling parents, we have the privilege and the responsibility to cultivate the seeds of intelligence planted within our children’s hearts, nurturing them with love, faith, and wisdom as they journey toward the fullness of life that God intends for them.

How do you unlock your children’s potential? Join me and other homeschooling parents at our Homeschool Connections Community or our Facebook group to continue the discussion!

Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

Catholic Homeschool Classes Online

Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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