Teenagers' IQ Can Change

Kara Powell | Oct 21, 2011

There’s a theme in some of the brain research that we’re hearing about at FYI: it’s possible for teenagers’ brains to become more sharp or to atrophy. Or as this recent study (with an admittedly small sample) suggests, it’s possible for teenagers’ IQ to increase or decrease.

As a parent and youth leader, I’m so encouraged by what this study suggests. Previous brain research has made it seem that most all of brain development ends at about age 6. If you weren’t reading and/or stretching your kids’ thinking between birth and Kindergarten, it was too late.

If there was a club for “Parents Who Read As Much As They Could Do Their Young Kids But Wish They Could Have Done More,” my husband and I would easily become members. So this theme in recent neurological research means we all still have time.

Time. While this study doesn’t cite the causes of IQ development, I’m guessing that children and teenagers often become more critical thinkers when adults take the time to talk with them, listen to them, ask them questions. And then repeat the cycle: talk with them, listen to them, ask them questions.

What can you do in the next few days to try to go deeper in conversation with a child or teenager?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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