Most parents realize very quickly that no two children in a family are alike. This realization can influence a family’s bond. When parents are aware that each child has his or her own unique gifts that contribute to the family, they can use strategies that bring out the best in each child. Though there are many ways to do this, one such approach is with Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.
Smarts at School
This approach is primarily used in schools, and educators often refer to the Multiple Intelligences as “Smarts.” The foundation of this approach is that all people have many different dimensions of intelligence and, therefore, learn in many ways. All people possess each of the eight intelligences, but some areas are stronger than others. Gardner offers the following Smarts, or dimensions of intelligence: Body, Self, People, Word, Math/Logic, Art, Music, Nature.
Smarts at Home
The Smarts concept isn’t limited to math and spelling, however, you can also use it at home. Just like at school, most children naturally want to make good choices and positively contribute to the family culture. When parents have a solid sense of how children learn best, they can reach into their proverbial bag of tricks to nurture each child in ways that are most compatible with the child’s learning style.
Engaging your child in activities that support her primary learning style can ultimately boost self-esteem, improve behavior, and build family culture.
What are Your Child’s Strengths?
First, you must determine your child’s strengths and talents. Most parents find this simple, based on their knowledge of their child, but if you’re not sure, check the resources at the end of this article – Family Education offers an online test you can take to find out how your child learns best.
Everyday Activities Lead to Stronger Family Connections
With a better understanding of each Smart, parents can use the Multiple Intelligences approach in everyday parenting. Activities will vary with the age of the child, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Word-Smart: Most parents know access to books and reading to children will help develop this Smart. However, if you know your child has a natural inclination toward writing and reading, consider letting him write your weekly grocery list. In addition, many children often enjoy writing letters back and forth with their parents as well, especially as they get older. If a child has made a poor choice and it is an appropriate consequence, encourage the child to write a letter of apology.
- Math/Logic-Smart: When baking cookies or cooking dinner with your child, allow him or her to use the measuring utensils and point out how people use math in daily life. Play logic-based games such as chess or checkers; even Legos lend themselves to the development of math and logic skills.
- Self-Smart: Most parents do a great job teaching children right from wrong. A child’s budding sense of morality is one way they become Self-Smart. Label emotions when they arise so children know how to deal with them in the future. Consider giving your child a journal so he or she can reflect on the many changes going on in his or her life. Self-Smart children often become strong leaders.
- People-Smart: Children must learn to get along with others very early in life. Parents can encourage this by learning how to address sibling rivalry, the root of most family discord. Teach your children to notice others’ feelings by paying attention to eye contact, body language and hand gestures.
- Music-Smart: Feel free to sing and dance with your child. Children with a dominant music intelligence enjoy rhythm, tone, and pitch. They will benefit from exposure to different kinds of music. If possible, allow your child to explore various instruments. Attend concerts and music performances as a family. These children often enjoy having music on as they do homework.
- Body-Smart: Most children have an abundance of energy, though some children learn best by moving their body. Provide your child with gross as well as fine motor activities. Gross motor activities include running, jumping, and participating in sports. Fine motor activities include exploring play-doh, making bracelets and cutting with scissors.
- Art-Smart: Many children enjoy exploring art supplies. If you notice your child communicating with pictures, encourage him to make cards for loved ones. For those who can’t write a letter of apology yet, drawing their apology is just as effective after making a poor choice. If your family has weekly chores, consider creating a chore chart. Information in chart or diagram form attracts Art-Smart children. Graphic novels often appeal to kids with an affinity for the arts as well.
- Nature-Smart: Children with this dominant intelligence simply enjoy being in nature. They can often be found collecting leaves or insects and sorting them. Parents can nurture a love for nature by encouraging children to unplug electronic devices and go outside. Consider choosing nature-friendly vacations, and outings such as zoos, aquariums, or nature preserves. Caring for pets and pointing out the life cycle of the seasons are other ways to include this Smart in everyday parenting.
Parenting With Multiple Intelligences
Most parents already naturally engage their children in many of these activities. However, thinking about these experiences through the lens of the Multiple Intelligences can help parents connect with their children in ways that can solidify the family bond and help kids develop within their varying strengths.© Copyright 2013 Julie Lemming, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Parenting