Multiple Intelligences: Understanding Your Child

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As moms we know that each of our children has a unique way of knowing and being in the world.  They each process and respond to things differently. They may also each shine in wildly different ways.  This “mom knowledge” is articulated in the acclaimed work of Howard Gardner who presents the idea of multiple intelligences.  The theory of multiple intelligences puts forth 8 distinct types of intelligences within which individuals can show strengths.  

I’ll briefly describe each one.  As you read through the descriptions, think about if/how your child or children might align with one or more of them. 

Spatial Intelligence-the ability to visualize surroundings

Naturalist Intelligence-the ability to understand nature in a unique way

Musical Intelligence-the ability to perceive sounds, rhythm and musically related items

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence-the ability to pair mind and body successfully

Linguistic Intelligence-the ability to use words to communicate effectively

Intrapersonal Intelligence-the ability to discern one’s own feelings and needs

Interpersonal Intelligence-the ability to discern others’ feelings and needs

Logical-mathematical Intelligence-the ability to prove ideas using quantifying measures 

Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
Image Attribution: https://www.simplypsychology.org/multiple-intelligences.jpg?ezimgfmt=rs:555×422/rscb25/ng:webp/ngcb25

So now that you have an idea of the differing types of intelligences what might that mean for you and your child? 

Take time to think about which intelligence(s) might be your child’s strongest and then celebrate them!  

Think about ways you can expose your child to people, ideas and activities that prompt the intelligence you suspect is his/her strong suite.  For example, exposing a child with musical intelligence to a wide variety of music genres or asking your local music store about a “music sampler” series of lessons so your child can try out the sounds and feel of a wide array of instruments. 

Talk as a family about the strengths of each family member and how each person contributes in his or her own special way.  Ask older children which area they feel is a strength for them.  Make sure to let your child know that just because a particular area isn’t their best, it can grow and develop with practice. 

talk as a family to understand multiple intelligences

Make others aware of your child’s intelligence strength.  Your child’s teachers and caregivers will benefit from knowing where your child excels. Encourage these individuals to tap into this intelligence type whenever possible. This may require some advocacy at times.

Consider doing a fun activity as a family like an escape room where multiple intelligences need to work together.  Chatting about how each person contributed to problem solving can assist in acknowledging and celebrating each unique intelligence.  

Check out some great kid friendly DIY escape room ideas here. Be sure to incorporate tasks that allow your child’s intelligence to be showcased!  

This website below goes into a bit more detail on multiple intelligences and links potential career choices to each intelligence type.  

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I am currently the Director of Special Education with Anderson School District Five in Anderson, SC. Prior to this, I worked as a school principal, director of charter schools and special education teacher. My bachelors is in Special Education, my masters in Educational Leadership and my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. My particular educational interests are supporting children with Autism and supporting struggling readers during their school years. We relocated to the upstate five years ago and love the area. I am the mother to one son who loves all things sports. Two of my favorite weekend activities are leading exercise classes and doing portrait photography.

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