We all know people who are gifted in different ways. Some people are great with math, others with making things with their hands, and still others who are good at writing poetry. There are varied ways in which people can show their intellectual capabilities. Dr. Howard Gardner identified nine ways in which people demonstrate their cognitive abilities and he called the varied ways of thinking “multiple intelligences.” Dr. Gardner believes people can be highly intelligent in one or multiple areas. He seeks to broaden our understanding and definition of intelligence.
As a parent of a child who struggles with one or more areas of traditional academics, you may recognize your child’s cognitive intelligence among the different types of intelligence in the chart below. As a parent, if you can identify your child’s intellectual area of strength, you can help him or her find ways to use his intelligence in learning, activities, and help explore ideas for careers that match your child’s unique abilities.
Here is a brief explanation of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory from Dr. Howard Gardner himself:
In understanding multiple intelligences, you can help your child feel excited about his abilities by finding ways for him to show his gifts. I recommend finding activities that utilize the child’s skills. For example, First Lego League Robotics might appeal to a child who has good math, logical, or spatial abilities. Odyssey of the Mind is a good activity for children who are strong in their Interpersonal intelligences or Linguisics. Any number of sports activities can become a great source of enrichment for children who have Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence. Existentially intelligent or Intrapersonal individuals might find enrichment in any number of study programs in your family’s religion, in self-improvement, or personal growth studies. Musical children would appreciate opportunities to learn how to play an instrument, sing, or learn about music. Naturalists would like hiking, outdoors activities, learning how to garden, etc.
Whichever intelligences your child demonstrates, you can feed his strength and help build his self-esteem. For children who struggle with traditional academics, having a realm of successfulness in an individual area of intelligence can make the world of difference in a child’s happiness, his feelings of belonging in this world, and gives him a sense of purpose. Every child needs to feel capable in some way! Find your child’s spirit within the Multiple Intelligences above and build opportunities for success into your child’s schooling. Doing so will bring benefits beyond measure to your child.