No two children learn the same way. Parents of more than one child quickly realize this when the tactics that worked to teach the first child sometimes fall flat when implemented on the second. While not all children have the same natural learning strengths as each other, there are ways parents can encourage several types of intelligence in their kids to make their brains even more accepting of knowledge.
Let’s take a look at the eight types of intelligence as defined by developmental psychologist Howard Gardner.
Learning through music is about so much more than the notes on a page. Having a grasp of the way music works, and how music conveys emotions, can have a significant impact on the way learning takes place in other areas of life. Whether your children play instruments, sing, or just like to interpret music through dance, musical intelligence is universally accepted as a way to stimulate the brain for other tasks, too.
Tip: Enroll your children in music lessons or look for a community orchestra or choir for kids. You can also use songs to teach your children about other things like science facts or geography. If you have a child who apparently harbors musical intelligence, encourage it by looking for every musical opportunity available.
This type of intelligence is crucial to building and maintaining functional relationships. Interpersonal knowledge is essential, for school, family life, social interaction, and the workforce. People who excel in this type of intelligence are often good in sales roles, teaching, or any job that requires compassion for and understanding of others.
Tip: Not all kids are naturally good at interpersonal relationships, and that’s okay. To give your kids the opportunity to shine in interpersonal intelligence, look for activities that they enjoy like team sports or music lessons and allow them to interact with others who share their interests.
Just as important as being able to function well with others, the ability to connect with oneself is something that parents can certainly help kids develop throughout childhood and into their teen years. Effective development of this skill provides your child with a strong internal compass about what makes them happy, where their strengths lie, and where they can challenge themselves. The level of intrapersonal intelligence a person has influences self-perception, ability to set challenging but realistic goals and inner drive to complete tasks.
Tip: Find opportunities to talk about personal ethics and set goals as a family. You can make it a family tradition to create annual goals/resolutions and then work together to accomplish them. Find ways for your kids to develop who they are through music, art, sports, academics, or even free time. With a grounded sense of self, kids can see the rest of the world more clearly.
This style of learning associates movement with a specific piece of knowledge. Activities that use bodily-kinesthetic learning incorporate movement for self-expression or even precision. The movement skills needed in sports, for example, are bodily-kinesthetic in nature.
Tip: Some ways to encourage bodily-kinesthetic learning with your kids is to look for everyday ways to implement movement, particularly when concentration is needed. Have your kids walk or pace when practicing their spelling words aloud, or toss a ball back and forth outside when you are reviewing facts for a test.
This type of learning encourages kids to see the relationships between problems, processes, and end results based on actions. Logical-mathematical learning looks at life as a puzzle and applies knowledge to solve the formulas – whether literal or figurative. This type of intelligence is paramount for problem-solving and discovering creative ways to find answers.
Tip: Let your kids see you solving problems in everyday activities. Explain your grocery budget before going and then let them help you tally up what you are spending as you shop. Choose sale items when you can, and show them how to make the most of the limited money you have to meet your family needs. You can also apply this to utility bills and other basic household spending.
Children who have a firm handle on verbal-linguistic intelligence tend to do well in traditional school settings; because verbal-linguistic intelligence relies on a mastery of words, their uses, and how to communicate. This type of learning encompasses both written language and oral use of it.
Tip: Talk about complicated issues in your home and use words to wade through them. Encourage your children to ask questions, even difficult ones, and make sure everyone in the home has a journal. Allow your children to speak their mind in a respectful way and encourage them to put into words how they feel about issues.
Understanding the way the world works relies heavily on knowing why and how living things exist. Naturalistic learning focuses on the patterns of life as we comprehend them, and then applies that reasoning to other parts of life. It’s important to know why living things operate the way they do and how that logical understanding translates to all types of intelligence.
Tip: Talk about nature and get out and enjoy it as a family as often as possible. Point out the living things you encounter on a daily basis and encourage your kids to point out their observations as well. Keep a notebook at home where everyone in the family can record questions, experiments, and general thoughts on life sciences and how it all plays into their lives.
Tapping into this type of intelligence will help your children envision ways to change the world around them before they take any action. Visual-spatial thinking relates the way things are in the present with how they could be with modification, using space and its relationship with physical items. People with strong visual-spatial skills can design, craft, and build with ease.
Tip: Encourage your kids to use their imaginations ahead of completing any project, whether it be at home or school. Organize ideas before moving forward to complete them with colorful markers, paper, folders, or other grouping mechanisms. Use drawings to illustrate ideas.
Don’t you find the way children learn and their capacity for knowledge fascinating? You can assess your family’s learning strengths using this multiple intelligences assessment.
Contributed by Jennifer Paterson: Jennifer, A.R.C.T., Master’s of Music (voice, piano), is the Founder & President of California Music Studios and has degrees from Boston University, The Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. She was a recipient of The Canada Council Award to study at the well-known Royal Opera House in London and was the principal soprano for the Boston Lyric Opera Company. Her dedication to the legitimate training of the voice and piano has made her a definite asset to the musical community of Southern California.