Every child is brilliant—in his own way. The challenge for parents is to tap that unique, natural intelligence, so he learns more quickly and enjoys every step. This doesn’t mean that he’s boxed into one type of learning (‘I’m good at Math, but suck at English’). The goal is to make him well-rounded, like a Renaissance child. But we can use that natural intelligence to teach him other things.
Here are some parenting tips on tapping your child’s natural intelligence. It can certainly make him smarter, but more importantly, it does this with less struggle and frustration. It teaches him to love learning.
Visual and Spatial Intelligence
Kids with natural visual and spatial intelligence are drawn to pictures and vivid images. They love maps, pictures, videos and movies. They are also more likely to retain that information, and to remember details. For example, if you ask them to recall a family vacation, they will describe the colors and shapes of things, and create visual metaphors and analogies (‘the mountain looked like a man’s nose’). They also like drawing and other visual arts, and enjoy books with photos.
Parenting tip: Kids with natural visual and spatial intelligence learn faster through charts and graphs. If they have to memorize theories or formulas—like Newton’s laws—ask them plot the facts in a chart, or go on the Internet to look for videos demonstrating the topic. They can also learn mind-mapping as a way of organizing information in textbooks.
Kids with natural verbal and linguistic intelligence are ‘word smart.’ They speak well, and can retain information they hear. They tend to do well in lecture settings, because they can take good notes based on what a teacher says, and are able to say it in their own words.
Parenting tip: The best study tool for kids with natural verbal and linguistic intelligence is reviewers. Writing, reading and repeating the information can help them retain it. They also do well in study groups, because they like explaining and discussing what they know. This can help them when they’re struggling in a subject, like Math or Science.
Kids with natural logical and mathematical intelligence are adept at conceptual thinking and numerical patterns and connections. They enjoy seeing the connections between ideas, and look for the theoretical framework. They also like experiments which test a concept, and making logical progressions. Because of this, they’re very curious and ask a lot of questions—trying to get their minds around an idea—but at the same time, dislike lists of disconnected facts.
Parenting tip: Kids with natural logical and mathematical intelligence like to see how ideas are connected. So, teach them to categorize information. For example, if they’re memorizing historical dates, you can help them by fleshing out the connections between events. They also enjoy classifying information, and are more likely to remember facts if they’re grouped.
Kids with natural Bodily and Kinesthetic Intelligence are graceful, have excellent hand-eye coordination, and like to express themselves through movement. They like sports, dancing, and physical activity.
Parenting tip: These kids learn better with their hands, so the best way for them to master a concept (like a scientific theory) is through experiments. They are also naturally inclined to make things, so that’s one way to get them interested in a topic. For example, they can make a diorama of a historical event, or put together a scrapbook on the different kinds of leaves and flowers.
Kids with musical and rhythmic intelligence love music, sounds, rhythms and patterns. They can recall a song or identify an off-note, and are sensitive to sounds in the room. They can, with encouragement, learn many musical instruments and may even compose music.
Parenting tip: Since these kids are sensitive to sounds, it’s best to create a study environment that blocks out any distracting noises (like crickets, other people’s conversations). They are also more likely to remember something they hear, so you can try recording facts and then making them listen to the tape over and over again. There’s also a strong link between music and mathematical intelligence/abstract patterns (these use the same part of the brain), so try encouraging their skills in math and spatial reasoning.