Beyond Intelligence Book cover

House of Anansi
Paperback | 312 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-77089-477-8
CAD $19.95


Beyond Intelligence is a parents’ guide to raising intelligent and happily productive kids. It’s a book about helping children become the strongest, most confident, happiest, and most successful people they can be.

In a fast-paced world, it is more important than ever that parents understand the coping skills their children will need for resiliency and success across the lifespan.

Using current research findings, we have written what reviewers are describing as a reader-friendly parenting companion that helps parents nurture their children’s abilities at every stage of development–from diapers to diplomas.

While the tone of the book is conversational, we have incorporated concepts from our own research and professional practice, and from our contemporaries’ findings in cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and educational psychology. We want all parents to have the tools they need to raise smarter, happier, and more successful kids.

In Beyond Intelligence, we show parents how to help their children discover what they’re interested in, and develop those interests into skills they can carry through their lifetimes.

The emphasis of the book is on solid time-tested habits, attitudes, and behaviours that help children become stronger and happier adults: hard work, persistence, patience, respect, and imagination.

Book Reviews


“In this insightful and optimistic guide, Matthews and Foster (coauthors of Being Smart about Gifted Education) explore the premise that all children have the potential to be creative, self-reliant, and innovative thinkers. According to the authors, there are many different kinds of intelligence―Picasso, for instance, had terrific visual and spatial skills, but had learning disabilities and didn’t do well in traditional studies. In order to help kids develop and grow, parents don’t need to pay for dozens of music lessons each week. Rather, nurture happens “in the natural flow of family life,” when parents read to their children, listen to them, and explore their interests. School is still a huge part of most families’ lives, of course, and the authors devote a section of the book to formal education, considering parents’ roles at school and how they might approach tough educational decisions. Throughout, the authors helpfully redefine familiar terms. Creativity, for example, is not expressed through unpredictable artsiness; it is expressed through bringing together competence at a given task with novel insights and critical analysis. Parents everywhere will be edified and empowered by this inspiring book.”

Publishers WeeklyStarred Review

“The writing is absolutely masterful – vibrant, rich, warm, smart, accessible. I appreciated the clear and well-labeled organization, and the “Our Secret” section is brilliant, unlike anything I have seen before. This is one of the best books – if not THE best – on the topic that has come out in a long time – JUST the thing that parents – and teachers – and gifted adults seeking to better understand themselves – will want to pick up and read. Beyond Intelligence is, well, beyond excellent!”

Felice Kaufmann, Ph.D.Creativity expert, and author of the longitudinal studies of the Presidential Scholars; Recipient of the 2017 US Presidential Scholars Award

“A wonderful, insightful, informed, and practical guide for today’s parents. Your children will thank you!”

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.Professor of psychology, Stanford University, and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

“Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster present parents with an evidence-based sweet spot between tiger mom and creative laissez-faire. Find advice on how to raise a child who is both disciplined and flexible, both wisely compliant and confident in one’s own path.”

Rena Subotnik, Ph.DDirector of the American Psychological Association Center for Gifted Education Policy, Washington, DC

“Beyond Intelligence is a refreshing and much-needed update on intelligence and its development.”

Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D.Author Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined; co-founder of The Creativity Post; scientific director of Imagination Institute, University of Pennsylvania

“[Matthews and Foster] challenge us to be more attentive to our children and more reflective about the declarations and gifts each child brings forward. Practical strategies and tools are outlined and examples are narrated in the context of a thought-provoking investigation into what ‘education’ really means.”

Jane Bertrand, Ph.D.Co-founder and co-author, Ontario Early Years Study; Executive Director, Atkinson Center for Society and Child Development, University of Toronto

“What a terrific guide for parents seeking to help their daughters and sons make the most of their potential! …. I applaud the authors for unpacking and liberating the concept of ‘intelligence,’ how to cultivate it… and how to transcend what are too often viewed as its constraints.”

Chester E. Finn. Jr.Former United States Assistant Secretary of Education, President of Thomas B. Fordham Foundation in Washington, D.C.

“If you only have time to read one book on parenting, make this the book….Beyond Intelligence is itself a highly intelligent guide to parenting.”

Rosemary EvansPrincipal, University of Toronto Schools

“Beyond Intelligence is a must-read book for parents, educators and professionals. Matthews and Foster provide an erudite yet personal and compassionate perspective on how to promote children’s intelligence and help them overcome obstacles in order to be more resilient and successful in life. If you want to help children be smart AND happy, read this book!”

Tracy Dennis, PhDAssociate Professor of Psychology, Hunter College, City University of New York; and parent

“Beyond Intelligence is laced with common-sense (and occasionally counter-intuitive) implications for parental practice, in which the need to deeply listen to, and understand, the child takes precedence over quick-fix commercial products or educational quackery. This book offers a refreshing alternative, and I recommend it unreservedly.”

Barry Hymer, PhDProfessor of Psychology in Education, University of Cumbria, United Kingdom

“By far the best book I have read on child development…It deserves to be a national best seller and it is a ‘must read’ for educators and parents.”

Janet KingPresident and founder of Kids Now

“Beyond Intelligence is the definitive almanac to help parents navigate and understand how to identify and nurture optimal learning for one’s child…. [It is] also a resource that can be referred back to time and time again as a parent interfaces with the joys and challenges encountered when raising a child to be successful.”

Josh Silvertown, Ph.DBiomedical researcher; president, executive director and co-founder of Dream Catcher Mentoring

“Readers will benefit from the manner in which Matthews and Foster accurately address all of the current issues that modern parents face and do so in a logical and easy-to-read manner. The summaries at the end of each chapter make this book into much more than a one-time read, but a resource that can be returned to over throughout a persons “parenting” life.”

Howie GrossingerDirector/Owner Camp Robin Hood/Camp Walden/Madawaska Camps

“Beyond Intelligence is a wise and balanced approach to optimizing children’s intelligence based on the latest research on learning, development, and neuroscience, and complemented by the authors’ extensive experience. It honours the complex ways in which children develop, giving practical recommendations for sensitive guidance at each stage of development. The book is a treasure trove for parents and teachers alike.”

Marion Porath, Ph.DProfessor of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education, University of British Columbia

“Thank goodness Dona and Joanne have written another book! By sharing personal stories, research, and practical strategies, Drs. Matthews and Foster have created a handbook that should sit on every parent’s shelf. As an elementary school principal and a parent, I applaud the authors’ nuanced approach to the discussion around intelligence and its implications for children, parents, and schools.”

Nancy SteinhauerAward-winning school principal, and parent

“Beyond Intelligence carries a beautiful message—our kids all have unique abilities and challenges. Take the essence of each individual child and run with it to achieve the best possible result. With the expertise of these highly qualified writers, each personality trait deserves enriching, and each perceived problem has a thoughtful, hands-on, and concrete solution.”

Shelley PetersonBest-selling Young Adult novelist and parent

“Everyone look up! The heavens have opened, sending guidance in the form of Beyond Intelligence our way. And just in time. For we live in an exponentially complex and fast-paced world that baffles many of us: parents, educators, and children alike.  Enter Matthews and Foster who part the veils to show us paths to meet children’s needs in a holistic, caring, and Uber-Educated/Analytical, well-researched, manner. If you purchase one book for raising your child, this is the one. Why? Because it allows one to see and meet the needs of our progeny using a mastery model enriched with a positive mindset-models that indeed work and endure for the ages.

Once upon-a-time, some seventy years ago, Benjamin Spock revolutionized child- care with his The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. Now we are in the midst of another child-care revolution thanks to Beyond Intelligence. Matthews and Foster lead us, as Taoist priests might, to the proverbial place of balanced harmony and knowledge. They joyously free parent, educator, and child from the cave-like shackles that keep one divining shadows on the wall.  Instead, the cave doors are opened and we are free to explore the celebratory light.

Being a parent or educator is the most daunting task, as is being a child that must continuously navigate the world in order to achieve meaningful adulthood. Enter the authors who advise that understanding and meeting the needs of a child on any level requires us to, at times, “lighten up and step back…” as well as have a sense of humor. As the parent of a thirty-four year old, advice I still need. But Beyond Intelligence, to be sure, was not intended as a parent guide in the Spockian manner, although it achieves that god-like status with such chapters as: Diapers to Diplomas and Raising Children to Thrive. However, what this work was intended to do was to educate us all on intelligence, creativity and meeting the needs of all children: those needing educational or social interventions and/or being gifted a la Howard Gardner’s paradigm of gifted intelligences and/or…the list and combinations presented in this book are wonderfully endless.

Yet, Beyond Intelligence, despite the serious nature of its topic, is so approachable and readable that it should be published in every known language and made mandatory reading for parents as well as children who are developmentally able to follow-it. Despite the serious nature of this tome, its chapters are not only informative, but also delightful and playful at times. Every chapter has a theme, a quintessential explanation of that theme, actual case studies, thought-provoking quotes by Einstein and other geniuses from every walk of life, checklists, and authors’ secrets.

This book is chock-full of “how-to” strategies on every level: such as, advocating for one’s child in a school system, reducing bullying/cyber bullying, finding the best educational fit, understanding tests and assessments, educating teachers, and, inter alia, analyzing the problems that children experience: boredom, finding friends that are a good match, perfectionism, and finding a positive learning or social environment.

Additionally, in Being Intelligent, the reader will meet the ground-breaking ideas of many noted researchers and writers such as positive mindset author Carol Dweck, Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Carol Tomlinson, Robert Sternberg, and my personal favorites Sally Reis and Joseph Renzulli who brought us the ground-breaking “School-wide Enrichment Model.”

Clearly, this work is as complete a roadmap for raising happily productive kids as one can find anywhere on the planet.So what more can one say about a book that should be on everyone’s gift-giving list? Just this: that it brought this otherwise stoic reviewer to joyful tears. To know that there is a guide, Beyond Intelligence, to assist us all in meeting and helping children traverse what confounds, alienates, or hurts them (as bullying or an uncaring adult might) is a gift to each of us and the society-at-large. Thank-you Matthews and Foster for taking us by the hand down a path and into the celebratory light.”

Howard FuchsNYC Teacher; Instructor, Hunter College City University of New York; and parent
Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Authors

Chapter 1. Starting with Intelligence

  • Smashing the Crystal Ball
  • What’s Your Score? (And Does It Matter?)
  • So Many Ways of Being Smart
  • Mindsets and More
  • So, What Is Intelligence?
  • Our Secrets: Starting with Intelligence

Chapter 2. Intelligence and Creativity

  • Insect Force and the Venus Fly Traps
  • What Makes Someone or Something Creative?
  • Ten Creative Thinking Habits
  • Timelessness: Experiencing the State of Flow
  • Curiouser and Curiouser
  • Our Secrets: Intelligence and Creativity

Chapter 3. The Changing Demands of Parenting: Diapers to Diplomas

  • The Early Years: Building a Better Brain
  • Childhood: Developing Interests, Habits, and Skills
  • Early Adolescence to Mid-Adolescence: Peril and Possibility
  • Late Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Higher Learning
  • Our Secrets: Diapers to Diplomas

 Chapter 4. A Parents’ Guide to Tests and Assessments

  • Four Basic Principles
  • What Are They Really Testing?
  • Measuring Up
  • Solving the Mystery: It’s All About Mastery
  • Hidden Costs of Labeling Children
  • Our Secrets: Tests and Assessments

Chapter 5. Education: Parents’ Roles at School

  • The Teacher’s Point of View
  • Making Changes Together
  • What Matters?
  • About Assumptions
  • Advocacy in Action
  • Our Secrets: Parents’ Roles at School

Chapter 6. Education: Teachers’ Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements

  • Classroom Essentials for Teachers
  • Classroom Ideas That Work
  • A Four Part Framework for Teaching Kids: Planning, Assessment, Activities, and Learning Environment
  • Thought-Provoking Questions
  • Our Secrets: Teachers’ Roles, Responsibilities, and Requirements

Chapter 7. Decision-Making about Schooling

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Mediocre
  • What Are the Choices?
  • What’s the Evidence?
  • School Is Not Enough
  • Dilemmas and Decisions
  • Our Secrets: Decision-making about Schooling

Chapter 8. Possible Complications

  • Inferences, Assumptions, and Truth
  • Being Different
  • Strengthening Emotional Intelligence
  • Developing Resilience and Coping Skills
  • Boredom
  • Fear of Failure and Fear of Success
  • Perfectionism
  • Laziness
  • Procrastination
  • Self-Confidence
  • Our Secrets: Addressing Possible Complications

Chapter 9. The Social Context: Friends and Others

  • Why Do Friendships Matter?
  • How Can Parents Help?
  • Bullying
  • Parents’ Questions about Cyberbullying
  • Social Context Matters
  • From Strength to Strength
  • Siblings
  • Our Secrets: The Social Context

Chapter 10. Raising Children to Thrive

  • Going Beyond Intelligence
  • What If My Child Is Not So Intelligent?
  • Putting It All Together
  • Realizing the Promise of Ability
  • Our Final Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids

Beyond Intelligence – A Few Excerpts from the Book

Intelligence is neither innate nor fixed. It’s not an attribute owned exclusively by some people, and not by others. The pathways to exceptional achievement are complex, diverse, and socially constructed, varying across individuals, developmental periods, contexts, and cultures. Intelligence and, perhaps just as importantly, creativity, develop over time, and can be influenced by many factors.

Helping your child get a good education is not about getting into the best school; it’s about finding and maintaining the best educational fit. By thinking carefully about your child’s interests and abilities, taking into consideration challenges that might be experienced, you become better informed about learning needs, as well as other academic, social, or emotional supports that might be required. It’s good to know at least the basics of assessment and other educational processes so you can be an informed advocate for your child’s education.

Intelligence and creativity are both active choices people can learn to make. They develop over time, with the right opportunities, support, and challenges. Do you provide as many different kinds of experience as you can think of, encouraging your children to find pursuits they want to follow? Do you support them with the resources and reinforcement they need? And do you model a love of learning, an engagement with your own interests and enthusiasms? Parents are most successful at teaching their children to behave intelligently and creatively when they decide for intelligence and creativity in their own lives.

Reflective habits of mind provide a starting point for the development of character and wisdom. Parents can help their children go beyond intelligence and live more thoughtful lives by modeling a mindful and caring approach to everyday life.

The essential thread that runs through the pages of this book is that parents recognize what matters most with respect to their child. This means taking into account all the contextual factors, including the child’s temperament, preferences, and interests; family dynamics; and circumstances such as health, financial considerations, and available support systems. Also important are school provisions, community possibilities, and cultural values. And, parents who model mindfulness, strength of character, and wisdom help their children develop and harness these and other important capacities.

Back Cover

Beyond Intelligence Book cover

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