Parents today realise the importance of developing their child’s intelligence as a way of ensuring their success in the future. “Intelligence” generally refers to a child’s ability to absorb, process and apply information.
Howard Gardner in the 1980’s developed the concept of multiple intelligences, which is the idea that human beings need to absorb and process many different types of information. Gardner defined 7 intelligences which are as follows:
- Linguistic Intelligence
- Musical Intelligence
- Logical-mathematical Intelligence
- Spatial Intelligence
- Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence
- Intrapersonal Intelligence
- Interpersonal Intelligence
To ensure that our child develops in a balanced and holistic manner, parents should provide opportunities for the child to grow in each of these 7 intelligences.
1. Linguistic intelligence refers to the ability to use language to communicate ideas in either a written or a verbal form. People with a high level of linguistic intelligence are often good speakers, or writers and are people who appreciate literature.
We can encourage our children to develop linguistic intelligence by reading to them from an early age, exposing them to different languages and to a variety of books from fiction to non-fiction.
It is also important to encourage our children to speak and communicate ideas and feelings. Take time to ask your child about their daily experiences, their ideas, their favourite TV shows and cartoon characters, their favourite toys, their best friends. Language ability improves with use.
2. Musical Intelligence refers to the ability to process and apply musical information. People with a high level of musical intelligence have a deep appreciation for music and also master musical instruments quickly.
We can encourage our children to develop their musical intelligence by exposing them to music from an early age. Some psychologists have argued that playing music, in particular classical and traditional music, to an infant, helps train their brains to process, organise and discriminate between the different tones, sounds and rhythms.
Most children by the age of 2 will also enjoy sing-a-long sessions with their parents. We can begin by teaching them simple traditional songs and rhymes.
Parents can also encourage their children to learn a musical instrument, the piano being the most popular. It is important, though, that the child is interested and that the lessons are not forced upon the child. Parents can nurture interest in this area by bringing the child to watch concerts or music recitals which may inspire them.
3. Logical-mathematical Intelligence refers to the ability to process and analyse abstract information systematically and numerically. People who have a high level of logical-mathematical intelligence tend to be strong in subjects like science and mathematics in school.
Parents can start getting their children to develop their mathematical skills by teaching them to apply mathematics in their day-to-day routine. Counting, adding and subtracting can be made part of their playing activities or a trip to the supermarket.
To encourage their skills in science, we can encourage our children to be observant of the natural world. In our own gardens, or the nearest forest park, our child can be exposed to a variety of observations, from how plants grow to how animals behave to how gravity works.
4. Spatial intelligence refers to the ability to process information about how objects are located in space in relation to one another.
A chess player, for example, has a high level of spatial intelligence, as they are able to analyse how the different chess pieces on the board positioned against each other. Artists and interior designers, who are able to use their imagination to form creative ideas on how to use space, also have high spatial intelligence.
Parents can help their children develop spatial intelligence by encouraging their children to play board games, starting with simple games like checkers, othello (reversi) and Chinese checkers, and then progressing to more complicated games like Chess and Chinese Chess.
Parents can also encourage spatial intelligence by encouraging children to use their imagination in drawing and painting.
5. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence refers to the ability to coordinate our physical movements. Dancers and athletes often have high levels of bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
Parents can provide opportunities for their children to develop bodily-kinesthetic intelligence by ensuring that they have enough time to play in wide spaces where they can run and climb. One hour everyday at the local playground will certainly help a child develop their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence as they learn to process information about how their bodies move and stretch.
Many young children enjoy dancing. It is a natural activity that reflects their joy and youthful energy, and is also an effective way to develop their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
By the time they are 4 to 5 years old, parents can also start exposing their children to sports that involve very simple and basic actions like football and basketball. A little later on, children can also be encouraged to try their hand at sports that require more complex and fine coordination like badminton, table tennis. It is important that parents resist the temptation to be too competitive and push their children too hard at such a young age.
From a young age children can be taught to be considerate to others around them. Parents can constantly draw the child’s attention to how their own actions have an impact on how other people feel. This could be positive, like how someone may feel happy when we help them, or negative, like how someone may feel sad when we are unkind to them.
6. Intrapersonal intelligence refers to the ability to process information about how we feel and think. This includes being sensitive to our emotions and being able to understand and manage these emotions.
We can help our children to develop strong intrapersonal intelligence by encouraging them to share about their feelings. Asking questions like “how do you feel about this?” and “why do you feel this way?” help children identify their feelings.
It is also helpful to model healthy ways of expressing emotions and thoughts. As parents, we set the example on how to manage potentially destructive emotions like anger and stress.
7. Interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to process information about how other people are feeling and thinking. This form of intelligence is important in helping us relate and communicate with others. It is also crucial for helping young children make friends and socialise with their peer groups.
We can help our children develop interpersonal intelligence by drawing their attention to other people’s needs and feelings. Even when we are watching a TV show, we can ask our child questions like “how do you think this person feeling?” “why are they feeling this way?”