How Smart Is Your Child? Let Us Count the Ways© Copyright BabyClassroom
Have you ever asked yourself, "Is my child smart?" Perhaps a better question would be, "How is my child smart?"
Experts agree there are many ways for a child or adult to process information. Some of us need to see a picture in order to understand new concepts. Others process information most effectively when we hear it. Still others need hands-on experiences in order to learn. Most of us use a combination of senses in order to learn, but there are those who heavily favor one area or another.
Similarly, there are many ways for an individual to demonstrate knowledge or "intelligence." In the early 1980s, Harvard University professor Howard Gardner introduced his "Theory of Multiple Intelligences" in which he not only recognized that people demonstrate knowledge in different ways, he attempted to define those ways as well.
Based largely on Gardner's work, educators today assess their students' abilities in a number of areas, accommodating the strengths of each student while giving them opportunities to practice and develop "intelligences" that don't come as naturally for them. As parents, we can do the same.
See if you can recognize your child in Gardner's eight core intelligences, but remember, it's just as important to give your little one opportunities to develop weaker areas as it is to foster and encourage her natural strengths:
Linguistic Intelligence: Babies who begin speaking early are often strong in this area. Later they may demonstrate the ability to speak and write well, learn new languages easily, and enjoy poetry and word play. Writers, lawyers, and poets are often strong in linguistic intelligence.
Activities: To foster your baby's linguistic intelligence, share books, songs, poetry and other language-related activities. Play with words and rhyming sounds, and introduce her to a variety of languages.
Logical-mathematical Intelligence: If your little one shows a special interest in numbers, counting, or categorizing objects, he may be strong in this area. People with this intelligence are able to analyze problems logically and perform complex mathematical calculations. They use deductive reasoning to solve problems and can spot patterns easily.
Activities: Play with patterns and numbers to give your little one practice in this area. Counting, categorizing (with colors, shapes or opposites, for example) and simple problem solving activities are fun ways to develop logical intelligence.
Musical Intelligence: If your baby is drawn to music, this intelligence may be among his strengths. As he grows, he may demonstrate a passion for performing, composing and/or appreciating music.
Activities: To encourage this intelligence, expose children to a variety of musical styles and give them opportunities to make their own music. (Here are some of our favorite musical toys and DVDs to get you started.)
Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence: Natural coordination and athletic abilities are a sign of this intelligence. People strong in this area often need to be physically involved in learning in order to effectively process information.
Activities: Give your child plenty of opportunities to develop gross motor skills in a safe, supervised environment. Encourage her to act out stories, build with blocks, express herself through art, and explore the world of sports in order to strengthen this intelligence. Sign language is a natural for people with strength in this area.
Spatial Intelligence: This intelligence, important in both art and science, involves visualizing concepts or seeing what one is thinking in the mind's eye. People strong in this area can recognize and understand spatial relations even when presented in an abstract way.
Activities: To foster a strong spatial intelligence, encourage your little one to solve simple jigsaw puzzles, play with patterns, or build with blocks. Older children can draw a picture of what they see when you tell a story or make a map of your home or neighborhood.
Interpersonal Intelligence: People strong in this area have a natural ability to understand things from another person's perspective. They enjoy working with others and work well as part of a group.
Activities: To help your child develop this intelligence, encourage her to talk about how she thinks others may be feeling, or what they might do, in real social situations as well as in stories. Ask questions like, "How do you think that makes her feel?" or "Why do you think she did that?" when reading a book or watching a DVD.
Intrapersonal Intelligence: This intelligence refers to the ability to understand, be comfortable with, and control one's own emotions. People with this strength often prefer working alone.
Activities: Use activities similar to those above (interpersonal intelligence), but focus on your child's own feelings.
Naturalist Intelligence: The eighth intelligence, which Gardner added over a decade after he published his original theory, is the ability to recognize and understand patterns in nature and apply them to other areas.
Activities: To foster this intelligence, give your child ample opportunity to explore nature, whether in a park, the woods, or your own back yard. Encourage her to explore the similarities and differences between plants, animals, weather and the seasons, and use objects from nature in art activities at home. (Read "Babes in the Woods" for more tips on exploring the great outdoors with your little ones.)
When you give your little one the opportunity to explore all her intelligences, not only do you encourage her to develop her strengths as well as her weaknesses, you validate her unique gifts and show her there are many ways to learn and be smart.
At Baby Classroom, we know every baby's smart! We hope you have fun exploring your little one's special talents and encouraging her to become a well-rounded, confident, intelligent individual!
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