While these are all part and parcel of a child’s development, there’s more to a child’s intelligence than equipping him with the knowledge and skills he needs to excel in school. Honing their different intelligences will get them so much farther in life, because as parents, you’ll be helping them learn from and deal with life using their own strengths.
There is this thinking that if you excel in school or aced your exams, you’ll be as successful in life as you were in school. But a simple look at those whom we deem successful—from business executives to those who occupy the highest positions in the land—tells you that not all of them excelled in school yet they managed to get to where they are.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligence developed by Developmental Psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983 proposes that there’s more to a person’s intelligence. In fact, in his book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, he stated the following different intelligences:
- Linguistic Intelligence (word and language smart)
- Musical Intelligence (music, sound, and rhythm smart)
- Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (numbers and logic smart)
- Spatial Intelligence (images and space smart)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (body movement smart)
- Interpersonal Intelligence (awareness for others smart)
- Intrapersonal Intelligence (awareness of self smart)
In the foreword of the book, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong Ph.D, Gardner writes, “From my perspective, the essence of the theory is respect for the many differences among people, the multiple variations in the ways they learn, the several modes by which they can be assessed, and the almost infinite number of ways in which they can leave a mark on the world.”
Knowing that there are multiple intelligences in each child means everyone has the ability to reach his highest potential. When you uncover your child’s intelligences, you’ll be able to give him activities that he will enjoy, and in the long run, guide him towards better learning in school (singing the multiplication table rather than memorizing, perhaps?). It may also lead to a dream career or lifelong vocation that your child becomes passionate about later in life.
While children benefit from having all these intelligences, there will be one or more intelligences dominant than the rest. Armstrong writes in Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, “Most people can develop each intelligence to an adequate level of competency… intelligences usually work together in complex ways. No intelligence exists by itself in life, intelligences are always interacting with each other.
Observation is key
Going through the list of intelligences, you might be able to zero in on two or more types of intelligence that your child might already show signs of possessing. Need help figuring it out? Observe the activities that your child likes to do.
Is he excited when you read his bedtime story to him? Perhaps he favors linguistics.
Does she break out into melodic song (or babbling) when you put on her favorite tunes? Maybe you’ve got a musical genius in your hands. Does he love sorting his blocks by shape or color? Maybe he is showing math skills right there. Is he more aware of how to use the playground, and figures when he should duck or move out of the way in certain areas? It may be spatial and bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. How about the ability to self-soothe, or help soothe other crying children? That may be a sign of interpersonal or intrapersonal intelligence.
Discovering your child’s intelligence in a fun way by reading this storybook called So Many Smarts! by Michael Genhart, Ph.D. and illustrated by Holly Clifton-Brown—which tackles the theory of multiple intelligence in a simple manner, helping your child find the character he or she relates to the most. It would make for a great bedtime story!
One of the great things about multiple intelligences is that it can be naturally observed through exposure. First off, taking care of your child’s physical well being, through getting enough hours of sleep, healthy and nutritious food and drink like Promil, will make your child better at absorbing and doing what he needs to do on a daily basis.
Secondly, give your child the opportunity to explore different types of toys and experiences. While your child may prefer to play make believe with her dolls and cars, offer some outdoor time to run around the park or play in the playground with other kids. Or while he can build buildings out of blocks all day, why not bring out the crayons and paper and let his creativity soar? Thirdly, look into your child's preschool curriculum if it supports a holistic approach, giving enough time for the different things that they need to learn, and if there's enough time for play.
The list of the number of intelligences continues to grow as more research is done through the years. But looking at Gardner’s list, parents have an ample guide to help every child become a well-rounded person: one who knows where his strengths lie, and how those strengths can help his weaknesses. Giving your child the ability to find and hone their different intelligences today will help them not just in school, but throughout life.