Multiple Intelligence: How it can help your child

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein

Have you ever wondered why some people are better at certain things than others? Why Raghav, new to the violin, can play better than Vidya, who has been learning it for 4 years? Why do some people enjoy working in groups while others are much more productive working alone? The answer may be in a theory of Howard Gardner a professor of education at Harvard University.

What is Multiple Intelligence theory ?

The traditional notion of intelligence is based on I.Q. testing . It focuses mainly on logical reasoning and linguistic abilities. And has little to do with creativity or problem-solving. Intelligence is more complex than that.

According to Howard Gardner, intelligence is:

  • The ability to create an effective product or offer a service that is valued in a culture;
  • A set of skills that make it possible for a person to solve problems in life;
  • The potential for finding or creating solutions for problems, which involves gathering new knowledge.

Gardner, in his book Frames of Mind , lists at least 8 different human intelligence. (Gardner also has suggested a possible addition of a ninth known as “existentialist intelligence.”) .

Gardner says and all human beings are born with all of these multiple intelligence (MIs). Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence states that people have different intelligence profiles . And each person has a unique profile. These profiles are influenced by biological, cultural and environmental factors. Some intelligence are more dominant than others.

Howard Gardner

What Are the Multiple Intelligences?

The 8 types of Multiple Intelligences as defined by Dr. Gardner:

S.No Intelligence Description
1 Verbal – Linguistic Intelligence The ability to think in words and use language to express thoughts, whether orally or in writing.   
2 Logical – Mathematical Intelligence The ability to think abstract ,  reason out , logically analyse problems , and explore patterns and relationships
3 Visual – Spatial Intelligence The ability to visualize things, think in three dimensions, recognizing patterns and having a good sense of direction.
4 Bodily – Kinesthetic Intelligence The ability to use  one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings and  having excellent hand-eye coordination and dexterity 
5 Musical Intelligence Ability to think in patterns, rhythms, and sounds and having a good sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, and music.
6 Interpersonal Intelligence The ability to understand and interact effectively with others and being sensitive to the emotions and perspectives of others.   
7 Intrapersonal Intelligence Ability to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning one’s life.
8 Naturalistic Intelligence The ability to relate to one’s natural environment, and easily recognize, identify and understand plants, animals, and other things in nature.

Kid friendly Multiple Intelligence Terms

Multiple Intelligence Terms

Kid friendly Terms

Verbal – Linguistic Intelligence
Word Smart
Logical – Mathematical Intelligence
Logic/Math Smart
Visual – Spatial Intelligence
Picture Smart
Bodily – Kinesthetic Intelligence
Body Smart
Musical Intelligence
Music Smart
Interpersonal Intelligence
People Smart
Intrapersonal Intelligence
Self Smart
Naturalistic Intelligence
Nature Smart

How can Multiple Intelligence Help your Child?

Whether you are a parent or a teacher you need to understand that there are multiple ways to be intelligent and all kids are smart in some way. We need to be aware that kids have unique abilities and interests and should allow them to grow and thrive in their natural gifts. Multiple intelligence provides teachers with a number of different ways in which a concept can be taught.

By presenting information in a way that appeals to their dominant intelligence, helps kids to be more receptive . This makes them more willing to engage in the learning process.

Presenting the subject in various ways accomplishes two important things:

  • It gives students more opportunities to understand the concept. Some kids may learn better by reading, others would like to act a story, while some others would like to make something with their hands.
  • It also helps all the students to understand the concept more fully and deeply because they can now think about it in several different way. This gives them a richer learning experience, and enables them to think about something in different ways. This helps them master the subject..

Understanding Multiple Intelligence helps teachers and parents give kids a richer learning experience. This makes learning more fun and rewarding for both the kids and the teacher.

Beware of Multiple Intelligence Labelling

As we try to nurture the natural abilities in a child, it’s important to remember not to label a child as being one thing or another. A child who is high on visual-spatial intelligence, may still benefit from using rhymes to remember information.

It’s important to ensure kids don’t use this as an excuse to say – “I’m musically intelligent, so I can’t do math problems.” They should be encouraged to use their strengths to help them build on their weaker areas. Rhythm and pattern are an integral part of both Music and Maths . Hence the musically intelligent child should look for ways to use music to understand Maths concepts.

So now I can see you have a million questions to ask

  • How can I find my Multiple Intelligence profile ?
  • How can Multiple Intelligence help teachers ?
  • How can Multiple Intelligence be incorporated in education ?
  • How to identify and understand your child’s Multiple Intelligence ?
  • What are the ways in which the different Multiple Intelligence can be used to enhance learning ?

We will look into each of these in detail in the subsequent posts ?