The traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. There are eight different intelligences that account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.
Linguistic intelligence (word smart) involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals.
Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smart) consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically.
Musical intelligence (music smart) involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns.
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (body smart) entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems.
Spatial intelligence (picture smart) involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.
Interpersonal intelligence (people smart) is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people.
Intrapersonal intelligence (self smart) entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations.
Naturalist intelligence (nature smart) enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment.
Schools focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. Many children who are gifted in other ways don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school.
Many of these kids, in fact, end up being labeled “learning disabled,” “ADD,” or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom.
So, if your child’s school does not teach based on these principles, how can you as the parent use them to help your child be successful in school and in life?
The first step is to go to the Birmingham Grid for Learning, and have your child take the test that determines their intelligence.
Then describe all eight intelligences to them, in language appropriate to their age of course, so that they will have a clearer understanding of each one. Once your child is clear about how they learn and how this is innately what they enjoy, then the next step is to show them how they can use this with their schoolwork.
When an assignment or project comes home tell them to put the topic of whatever the project is in the center of a blank sheet of paper, and draw eight straight lines or “spokes” radiating out from this topic. Label each line with a different intelligence. Then start brainstorming ideas for learning or showing that topic and write down ideas next to each intelligence.
They might just want to do the assignment in a way that aligns with their intelligence, but it’s important for them to know that everyone has a little of each intelligence so they can mix and match too.