Ages & Stages: 6-10: What Kind of Smart is Your Child?

Many times we judge a child’s intelligence on his reading and math ability. Those are the things deemed most important in the early school years. However, based on research begun by Howard Gardner and continued by other educators, there are eight intelligences — or eight different areas in which your child might excel.

They are:
• Linguistic intelligence. Your child can read, write and use a large vocabulary of words. He may enjoy keeping a journal or writing poetry.
• Logical-mathematical intelligence. Your child can reason and figure things out. She judges things in a logical and systematic manner rather than based on emotions.
• Visual-spatial intelligence. Your child visualizes things in his mind. He can see a clear picture when he shuts his eyes. He enjoys sketching, painting, sculpting or taking photographs.
• Musical intelligence. Your child keeps time to a beat, learns songs easily, or enjoys playing instruments or even beating out time on a pan for a young child. She has an appreciation for the art of music and may enjoy being exposed to different kinds of music.
• Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Your child relates to the world and demonstrates feelings physically. He may excel in sports, dancing, acting or even building.
• Interpersonal intelligence. Your child is social and outgoing. She relates well to others and empathizes with their needs and hopes. She often sees the real person under the exterior.
• Intrapersonal intelligence. Your child is quiet and reflective. He analyzes his own strengths and weaknesses. He reviews his performances and behaviors.
• Naturalistic intelligence. Your child loves the outdoors. He fills his pockets with “neat” rocks, leaves, sticks and insects. He learns to identify flora and fauna.

Our schools focus primarily on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences. If those aren’t your child’s strengths, he might be considered a failure. Observe your child closely this week and see if you can spot his area or areas of intelligence. Then find ways to encourage him to develop those areas. Some schools don’t have the resources or flexibility to find each student’s area of intelligence or to teach to those strengths, so you may have to be creative or suggest ways that the teacher can help.

If you home school, you can build on your child’s strengths. If your child is a kinesthetic learner, find ways he can learn lessons to movements. If he is musical, teach skills through songs, and so on.
Not all children excel in math and language skills, but all children have an area of strength. It’s our job as parents to find and build on that strength.

Put a check by each item that describes your child. This will help you pinpoint his or her area of intelligence.

___ Chooses reading as a leisure time activity
___ Expresses himself well verbally
___ Can hold his own in an argument or debate
___ Likes to write stories or pretend write
___ Does crossword puzzles or plays word games such as Scrabble
___Learns well from teacher lectures or explanations

___ Enjoys counting objects or telling you how many items are in your grocery cart
___ Figures math problems in his head
___ Does well with brainteasers or logical thinking puzzles
___ Backs up his arguments with valid points
___ Solves problems step-by-step
___ Notices that things said to him or on television are illogical

___ Enjoys looking at pictures, sculptures and other art forms
___ Likes to take photographs or videotapes on vacation
___ Doodles on the sides of his notes, assignments and tests
___ Can put together jigsaw puzzles
___ Can read a map well
___ Draws or diagrams to figure out a problem or explain his point

___ Can hear a tune in his head
___ Sings all the commercial jingles by memory
___ Enjoys listening to music
___ Taps out the correct beat to a song
___ Listens to music while working
___ Shows promise on a musical instrument

___ Likes to exercise or take part in sports
___ Says running or biking helps him think
___ Can catch, hit, kick and throw sooner or more easily than others his age
___ Learns best from hands-on activities
___ Loves the thrill rides at the fair
___ Takes part in activities that require physical skill

___ Chooses to work in a group rather than alone
___ Enjoys youth group, clubs, choir, team games and other people-oriented activities
___ Shows interest in the plight of the poor, sick or homeless
___ Has lots of close friends
___ Shows insight into people’s motives and actions
___ Is sought out for advice by his friends
___ Chooses activities she can do by herself
___ Keeps a journal or diary to record thoughts and feelings
___ Sets goals and strives to reach them
___ Is not easily influenced by other’s opinions
___ Has a hobby or interest she enjoys doing by herself
___ Is realistic about her own abilities and weaknesses
___ Brings stray animals home
___ Ask you for the names of flowers, birds and trees he sees
___ Notices things like clouds, stars, nests, birds and insects
___ Is interested in environmental issues
___ Brings you “neat” bugs to admire
___ Plants flowers or a garden each year

Gifts for Your Child
Here are some gifts your child may like based on his intelligence type:
Linguistic: Crossword puzzle book, journal, books

Logical/mathematical: Puzzles with patterns, plastic shapes to make designs, games that use strategy

Visual/spatial: Books or games with mazes, “Where’s Waldo” type activities, Legos
Musical: CDs of favorite groups, toy or real instruments

Bodily/kinesthetic: Craft activities, sports equipment, games that use movement (Twister and others)

Interpersonal: Games that use lots of communication skills, phone card to call out-of-town relatives and friends, dress up and make believe toys

Intrapersonal: Hobbies and craft sets that can be worked on alone, journal, goal-oriented games
Naturalist: Kits to grow crystal or plants, terrarium, wildlife handbooks

Katrina Cassel is an author of five books and lives with her husband, five of their children and an assortment of pets in the Florida panhandle.