Every parent knows that their child is unique and different. Children differ in their development (early/late bloomers), abilities and strengths( some are great at ball games and others fine-motor activities like drawing) and interests (animals, vehicles, painting, etc..). Children also have their unique way of learning.
In 1983, Howard Gardner proposed the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Gardner argued that children don’t all learn the same way but that there are multiple ways to learning and several intelligences at work. Gardner also argues that intelligence is best expressed through our idea and products not a scored test. Unlike other intelligence measures, he also stated that culture is an important context of intelligence expression.
Gardner identified 8 intelligences. Each of us has all these intelligences in some form or the other. However, some are more dominant and obvious in our learning and expression.
- Musical Intelligence (“music smart”): The ability to think in music and audibly recognize and repeat patterns. The ability to create and communicate meaning through sound. Yes, musical abilities are considered a talent but they are also a form of intelligence. Certain parts in the brain aid in the production and perception of music. Expose your baby to music early on and explore her interest in playing an instrument. Rhymes and songs may make learning easier for your child. Famous examples: Mozart, Omar Khayrat. Child example: Akim Camara
- Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence (“body smart”): The ability to use your body for expression or solving a problem. These children learn best with hands on experience and experimentation. Try providing hobby or science kits as well as acting or role-playing. Examples include athletics, actors, performers, dancers and surgeons. Famous example: Charlie Chaplin.
- Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”): The capacity to think in a logical and systematic fashion. It’s associated with solving mathematical problems and the ability to think scientifically. It is often characterized by rapid problem solving and a nonverbal nature. Children can learn through experimentation, problem solving and logic games. Famous Example: Issac Newton.
- Linguistic Intelligence (“word smart”): The capacity to use words and language to express yourself. As well as, the ability to understand the people around you. People with this intelligence are sensitive to language and an ability to learn languages. They also use language as a means to remember information. Examples are poets, writers, public speakers and lawyers. Famous examples: Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Nizar Qabani
- Spatial Intelligence (“picture smart”): People with this intelligence think in terms of physical space. They like to draw, read maps, do jigsaw puzzles. May be interested in photography. These people learn best through drawing, verbal and physical imagery. Provide your child with creative material for learning and self expression. Examples are architects, photographers, graphic designers, artists. Famous example: Picasso. Child example: Aelita Andre
- Interpersonal Intelligence (“people smart”): Are good at understanding and interacting with others. They learn best through interaction, group activities and dialogue. Your child may learn best through discussion or through social interaction. Examples are teachers, therapists, politicians and leaders. Famous examples: Gandhi.
- Intrapersonal Intelligence (“self smart”): Have an understanding of their own interests and goals. They are able to self reflect and are in tune to their inner feelings. May prefer independent methods of learning. You can encourage your child to keep a journal, read books or learn from creative material such as hobby and experimental kits.Examples include counselors and philosophers. Famous examples: Plato.
- Naturalist Intelligence (“nature smart”): People with this intelligence are drawn to the natural world. They understand it very well and are able to work in it. They are able to learn through nature exploration. You can provide your child with outdoor exploration time, nature walks or keeping a pet. Some different ideas include having an ant farm or butterfly house. Examples include chefs, biologists, farmers, naturalists. Famous examples: Charles Darwin.
So What Does that Mean to You as a Parent?
It means that just because your child isn’t “good” at multiplying, it doesn’t mean that he is less intelligent than a child who is. It just means your child has a different intelligence strength. Try to find out what your child’s intelligence is and introduce other concepts through this point of interest. For example, a child who shows naturalist intelligence may not be as interested in reading stories, writing or geography. However, try introducing this child to books on animals, writing about a new species or learning about the different terrains that animals live in and you will probably see rapid interest and learning. This is because you addressed his prefered intelligence.
Young children can also benefit from understanding the many ways they are smart. Expose your child to different experiences; include music (real music not just children’s songs), books, give enough outdoor time to run, climb and explore nature, play with blocks and Lego, encourage self expression in words and art.
For those interested in learning more about multiple intelligence and tools to implement in your home or classroom, the multiple intelligence institute offers online classes for both parents and teachers.
Picture from arthur-cha