Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory with Test Resources


How smart is your kid? In what way is he smart? 

Gardner’s multiple Intelligence theory can be applied to your kid’s learning

Doing so will help your child build on his natural gifts and learn more easily.

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. You can use your child’s individual strengths to teach your child in creative ways.

Dr. Howard Gardner identified nine ways in which people demonstrate their cognitive abilities and he called the varied ways of thinking “multiple intelligence” types.

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.

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Gardner's Multiple Intelligence theory
You may want to watch this brief explanation of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory from Dr. Howard Gardner himself (YouTube Video that opens in a new window):

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory

In understanding multiple intelligence types, 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 and teaching him by using his areas of giftedness.

For example, First Lego League Robotics might appeal to a child who has good math, logical-mathematical, or spatial abilities. If you include math concepts in learning units, it will engage your child better.  For example, if you’re studying whales, also include exercises to measure out the length of a whale outside, or look up land objects that are equivalent in weight.  For just about any topic, some math concepts can be included.

Odyssey of the Mind is a good activity for children who are strong in their Interpersonal intelligence or Linguisics.  If your child is highly social, then group studies such as drama, debate, small group classes, etc., can help your child become engaged in learning.

Any number of sports activities can become a great source of enrichment for children who have Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence. Moving while learning is key to keep B-K learners actively engaged in lessons.  Your child can rock, jump on a mini trampoline, or walk on a treadmill while reading or reciting facts.  Check out additional Kinesthetic learning activities to teach your child.

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.  Relating studies to their affect on your child personally can help him relate to content.  For example, when talking about the water cycle, you can help your child understand how he uses water in his daily life.

Musical children would appreciate opportunities to learn how to play an instrument, sing, or learn about music.  Children with musical intelligence love learning through jingles, clapping rhythms, listening to musicals, etc.

Naturalists would like hiking, outdoors activities, learning how to garden, etc. They enjoy learning about how different events and concepts affect the world around them.

Linguistic learners love talking about and hearing about concepts.  They are roughly equivalent to auditory learners and can learn through great auditory learning activities.

How do you determine a child’s “intelligences”? I recommend trying one of the following assessments. For an older child (middle school aged or older), this is my favorite assessment: because the results provide the top three areas of intelligence, along with a rating scale, and each area’s rating is provided at the bottom of the results.

If you have a younger child, go ahead and take this free assessment yourself, then look at each of the rating areas and see which ones you believe apply to your individual child. With any aged child, use the inventory found at: to determine which area(s) of intelligence seem to apply to your child most.

Whichever intelligences your child demonstrates, you can feed his strength and help build his self-esteem.  For children who struggle with traditional academics, being successful 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 Intelligence types above and build opportunities for success into your child’s schooling.  Doing so will bring benefits beyond measure to your child.

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