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Multiple Intelligences: How Is Your Child Smart?

Growing up I was often considered a gifted and talented kid. I excelled in math and science. I won my school spelling bee two years in a row. I received the Presidential Physical Fitness award at the highest level. I was first chair flute in band. I was even permitted to join the choir a year early based on my musical abilities. My older sister did not like that.

I was really good at many things. This helped in school a great deal because I was often given the benefit of the doubt. The expectation of the adults around me was that I would excel. Even in times when I didn’t produce the best result, I was still acknowledged as gifted.

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My Parenting Experience

So when it came to parenting, my own experience had set me up for failure. When it came to raising my niece and my bonus child, all the things I believed were “just that easy,” for them were “just that hard.” By the time I had my own children I knew I had to take a different approach.

Alexandra was skipped past kindergarten. She also excels in math, reading, and spelling. Even though her teacher, principal, and school counselor were all in agreement, the red tape and state regulations were maddening.  I signed up for a local parent advocacy training to better learn to navigate the system. It was there that I learned about Multiple Intelligences. It completely changed my perspective on children and education.



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Mulitple Intelligences Explained

Howard Gardner, a Harvard University psychologist, developed the theory to combat the idea that there is one singular measure of intelligence in people. He proposed that there are eight (8) different ways the human brain processes information. In each one of those eight (8) ways, there is a measurement from low to high. Learn more about the theory behind his research here.
Every child has a unique brilliance. Our jobs as parents is to discover, develop and nurture it. Using Multiple Intelligences you can uncover your child’s strengths by learning exactly how they are smart.

Multiple Intelligences help you to stop asking the age old question, “how smart is my child?” and to start asking, “how is my child smart?” Everyone has a measure of each of the eight intelligences. Your child is the smartest in the area he/she demonstrates the most ability.

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What Multiple Intelligences Means For You

Here is a brief explanation of what they and what they mean.

  • Linguistic Intelligence – word smart (likely good at spelling or enjoys reading, writing and telling stories)
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence – math smart (likely very logical, good with numbers and puzzles)
  • Spatial Intelligence – picture smart (likely very imaginative and creative, sees things others don’t)
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence – body smart (very adept at using his/her body, likely excels in sports)
  • Musical Intelligence – music smart (sensitive to rhythm, tone, melody and pitch, likely excels at instruments)
  • Interpersonal Intelligence – people smart (likely very social and well liked, in tune to others emotions)
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence – self-smart (self-aware and in tune with one’s own capacity and emotions)
  • Naturalist Intelligence – nature smart (able to distinguish between different kinds of species and natural elements)

In the traditional education system, curriculum supports the linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. Remember the three Rs; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. This overshadows students who have high intelligences in other areas. It can also leave parents feeling helpless when their child is not successful in a traditional school setting. Knowing your child’s strongest intelligences can help you find the right educational setting for them.

Do you know your child’s intelligences?
Join our mailing list to download a free MI Assessment for Children.

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21 Replies to “Multiple Intelligences: How Is Your Child Smart?”

  1. I agree that each and every child has his or her own strengths. Not every child learns the same way and I think schools need to start thinking about this!

  2. I agree that every child has their own brilliance and I think that goes beyond school. My two daughters are equally smart in multiple areas, unfortunately, I have had to go to the school on more than one occasion to talk to teachers who compare the two. My oldest is GT in school and the arts, the younger one is equally intelligent but flourishes with hands on learning.

  3. I agree with you SO much!! I do think that most public school systems lump all of the students together and teach them one way. This isn’t good because everybody learns differently, and as you wrote, there may be other intelligent areas found in children that the public school curriculum does not target. My 14 year old struggled in the public school system from grades 2 to 5. I eventually had to pull her out and homeschool her. It was a very challenging time going back and forth to the school and seeking help. I really love this article!

  4. I know for a fact many children are gifted and smart, even beyond “school standard” intelligence. I think creativity should be one to look into as well because although reading and writing and seeing how well you can retaining scholastic info is great, I know so many kids who are geniuses when it comes to high levels of creativity but those are subjects that do not get glorified enough.

  5. Each child definitely has their own strengths. My son is a “GT kid” but honestly I feel like my daughter and him are so different but definitely excel in their own ways. Good article.

  6. I’ve never heard of these and my so. is a few of these. I guess in some ways, I knew what he excelled in but never knew that they had a name. Thanks!

  7. Learning to cultivate and highlight children’s innate skills is so important as we help them develop. So often we use a one size fits all approach in education. Identifying a child’s unique brilliance is the key to helping them excel.

  8. This is very important knowledge to have! I have to know it as a teacher, but it is also essential to anyone who educates: motivational speakers, workshop presenters and more. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. I learned about multiple intelligence’s in college and find it fascinating. I have high kinesthetic/bodily intelligence and was a dancer in my younger days 🙂 I can see one of my sons has that trait and the other doesn’t – and that’s okay! I love the question “How is my child smart!”

  10. I love that you pointed out each child has their own strengths! I have three children who are close in age. People tend to try and lump them all together because of this. Each child is so different, with their own interests. I adore their pieces that make them, them!

  11. This is very true not every child learns the same way. My child is very smart and is in the gifted program that said he is terrible at completing work. He knows what to do he just doesn’t do it. So yeah every child is different.

    1. In addition to knowing in what areas your child’s intelligences, it is important to know their personality. It’s a dual approach to helping them become their best. My youngest gets easily distracted so we make her do her work in short spurts. Otherwise it never gets done! #mommyproblems

  12. Interesting concept to intelligence. I think too many people want all children to be “smart” in the same way. As a former teacher I know that children excel at different subjects and in different ways

  13. This is a very interesting concept for me. I have twins just started kindergarten and I’m beginning to see just how different they learn. Good information to be aware of!

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