The Multiple Intelligences Theory

multiple intelligences

Each individual child is different and special in his own way, which means he also learns in his own way. Along with using his right and left-brain in combination, he has to make split-second decisions and tap into his emotional intelligence. But, along with all that, he has a special learning style that works best for him, and connecting with his multiple intelligences only boosts his abilities to greater lengths.

Defining Multiple-Intelligences

Multiple-intelligences are the concept and understanding that individuals learn in different ways and are more apt to retain knowledge when information is presented in a certain way. Howard Gardner, a leading expert in the area of multiple intelligences, finds intelligence is the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural settings. According to Gardner there are multiple intelligences that can be valued and encouraged, creating a stronger and smarter individual, or ignored, stunting potentially important growth.

As parents, or educators, we want our kids to be smarter and think to their greatest capacities. Understanding and appreciating the different ways that kids learn and taking the time to encourage their abilities is an essential step to promoting positive life skills and development. Our brains are born pre-wired to lean in one learning direction more than another. And then, through experiences, our intelligence is increased. Multiple intelligence theory taps into the child’s intrinsic levels of motivation through natural talents, which encourages learning and development in a comfortable way.

9 Multiple-Intelligences

So, what are the nine multiple intelligences? Some are interrelated and overlap a bit, but each child possesses each of these nine intelligences in varying amounts, and some are more dominant than others. They are:

Verbal-Linguistic – This includes the ability to use words and language. If your child has a knack for picking up languages, understands and uses language properly, he probably has leanings toward being a verbal-linguistic learner. Your child may prefer to read a book than finish his homework, but finding a balance is key. Offer rewards, such as a trip to the bookstore, once academic goals are met.

Logical-Mathematical – For children, this includes the capacity to understand and recognize numbers and abstract patterns. A kid that enjoys concentrating on challenging math or logic questions and engaging in exciting science experiments has logical-mathematical leanings. You might have the next great mathematical genius on your hands, so find ways to encourage those skills through playing games such as Sudoku or tangrams.

Visual-Spatial – This is the ability to visualize objects and special dimensions and to create internal images and pictures. It is thought that left-brain dominant learners also learn concepts best through visual-spatial activities. Your budding artist may have a completely disorganized room, but actually know where each important item is located. Find ways to encourage his skills by challenging his logical right brain, such as using toothpicks to construct a building.

Body-Kinesthetic – The ability to use the body in a controlled physical way. Just because your child has a hard time sitting still does not mean he is a challenging learner, but that he finds moving his body an essential part of his learning experience.  Find ways to tap into your child’s bodily abilities by encouraging participation in sports that promote problem solving and quick thinking.

Musical-Rhythmic – Recognition of musical patterns, sounds, and rhythmic beats. Kids that are excited to pound away on the piano or want to spend hours practicing the viola are learning through all that music. In fact, playing an instrument may encourage your child’s understanding of math concepts.

Interpersonal – The ability to create personal relationships and engage in person-to-person communication. Often, children that easily empathize with others or want to help and lead others are interpersonal learners. Your interpersonal child probably loves talking, sharing and working with others, so encourage his skills by offering him a video camera to use for making a movie collaboratively with friends.

Intrapersonal – When a child has the ability to understand self-reflection and inner being. Children that are able to identify and regulate their emotions and behaviors are interpersonally intelligent. Although it may seem that your child is withdrawn or quiet, he has a busy inner-life. Offer your child lots and lots of journals to keep important notes – and remember to respect his privacy if he does not feel like sharing.

Naturalistic – The ability to understand, recognize and categorize items in nature. Kids that are all about digging in the dirt and exploring nature around them may have a stronger naturalistic intelligence. So head outdoors with your budding naturalist and take a trip to your local zoo or museum. He will love the experience and feel nurtured to explore nature around him.

Existential – Understanding and striving to learn more about human existence and question and learn about life, death, and what happens after. Children that like to question and have deep inquisitive thoughts are existentially intelligent. It may be time to hit the library or spend some time researching together on the Internet when you grow tired of the questions. But, teaching your existential child research skills will only benefit him for years to come.

Encouraging Multiple Intelligences

Now that you have an idea what multiple intelligences may be stronger in your child than others, what to do?

-Understand that teaching children with blanket educational styles will not promote positive learning. Getting to know each child individually offers the ability for educators, and parents, to tap into children’s intelligences and adjust learning and teaching experiences.

-As a parent, take the time to educate yourself on the multiple-intelligences concept through reading and learning more about your own learning style and intelligences. When you as a parent understand a concept, ideas are easily implemented in the home.

-In the classroom, allow students to take part in their own assessment and grading to encourage their own intelligences and self-motivation. Along with taking part in assessment, students can be included in lesson planning and encouraged to offer their opinions and ideas for teaching and learning certain topics.

-Learn more about your child’s special area of expertise and encourage it. Like earlier stated, this means that if your child is showing signs of being the next Mozart, find ways to encourage his musical talents. Even if it is not an area you are fluent in, find ways to connect and further educate the child to help promote his way of learning.

Multiple-intelligences are just another great way to expand your child’s learning abilities and learn more about the wonders of the brain.