Anyone around more than one child at a time can readily see that kids learn things differently. From the time a child is born, there is a wide variance in how kids determine their interests, process information, grasp new concepts, and interact with others. In babies and toddlers, developmental milestones are used to gauge certain key concepts. As long as certain skills are attained, uniqueness is celebrated and encouraged.
But as kids get older, and especially when they begin school, kids are often taught the same way rather than through an individualized approach that works best way for them. Part of the common "lesson delivery" is due to sheer numbers. A teacher with 15 kindergartners, for example, faces a difficult task in trying to tailor lessons to wide-ranging learning styles simultaneously. Most classrooms deliver instruction in a logical, intellectual setting. That may work well for many kids, but for those who learn best using other approaches and senses, it may make understanding the information a greater challenge.
Parents and educators alike can work together to help kids flourish and develop their learning style preferences and turn those "smart traits" into strengths. So, how do you get beyond the IQ and discover the "multiple intelligences" of your child--which, simply said, means figuring out the ways your kid is smart? Start by reviewing these eight descriptions from author Howard Gardner
and Multiple Intelligences Research and Consulting Inc.
Considered "people smart" by demonstrating an intuitive understanding of others, and having social sensitivity and empathy to the moods, emotions, feelings and points of view of individuals.
Is "self smart" by being in tune with one's self and demonstrating great self-awareness of personal goals, ideas and abilities.
Considered "body smart" with coordination, body movements, balance, dexterity, physical activities, and sports.
Is "word smart" and possesses a great mastery of language for both expressive and practical purposes, persuasion and negotiation, and in writing reports and letters.
Is "number smart" and excels at complex math and logic as well as reasoning and critical and creative problem-solving. Uses logic to solve problems and is a strategic thinker.
Is "music smart" with a keen music appreciation, is skilled vocally and/or instrumentally, and has "tunes on the brain." Thinks in terms of melodies, rhythms and rhymes.
Is "nature smart" by recognizing and understanding the natural world, including animal behavior, plants, and ecological relationships.
Considered "picture smart" by perceiving a visual world accurately, creates artistic designs, and working with objects. Has a strong awareness of spatial orientation and moving objects through space (such as running or riding a bike).
Dr. Gardner is currently reviewing this as a possible ninth intelligence, which focuses on a philosophical meaning of daily life and guiding principles such as truth, wisdom, and honor.
While learning styles or intelligence types can provide insight and tools for helping kids find their niche in the world, child experts advise against falling into the trap of "labeling" your child and allowing perceived strengths or weaknesses to unduly influence a youngster's path in life. Too many well-meaning parents may push their "music smart" child into voice and instruments and avoid math or science because they don't think their child is a logical thinker, when, in reality, a child may excel in many areas. By the same token, don't let it become an excuse for not doing well or trying new things. Parents, child care providers and educators alike should encourage kids to try different things and explore a wide variety of interests, regardless of their learning style.