Multiple Intelligences – How do you view your child?

What is multiple intelligences? Oh, before you think this is going to be a boring post, I urge you to read on further as it is really interesting and will make you aware of your child’s strengths and how to encourage them.

Together with some Rise and Shine partner bloggers and media, I had the honour to attend a talk by Dr Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D who was invited by Wyeth Nutrition to talk about discovering and encouraging the multiple intelligences in children. The talk took place at SmartKids Asia 2014 in Singapore Expo. (Dr Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the American Institute for Learning and Human Development, and an award-winning author and speaker who has been an educator for the past forty years.)

Dr Thomas Armstrong started by introducing the 12 qualities of genius and how to go about to awaken the genius in our children. The list below states the 12 qualities of genius. Can you identify most of them, if not, ALL in your child?
• Curiosity
• Playfulness
• Imagination
• Creativity
• Wonder
• Wisdom
• Inventiveness
• Vitality
• Sensitivity
• Flexibility
• Humor
• Joy

I could certainly identify almost all of these qualities in my children. That must mean that each child is a born GENIUS!

But what really happened to the supposedly born genius in this society?

Dr Thomas Armstrong shared 3 big problems that suppressed this genius in each child: Home-miliation, Dysteachia, Media-ocrity.

Home-miliation (meaning: Humiliation at home)
• Dysfunctional Family
• Disadvantaged Family
• Fast-Track Family
• Rigid-Ideology Family

Dysteachia (meaning: poor or inadequate teaching)
• Testing and Grading
• Talk and Tedium
• Textbooks and Worksheets
• Tracking and Labeling

Media-ocrity (meaning: Media, eg. TV, radio, social media being an inferior influence)
• Mind-numbing Violence
• Trivial Content
• Insipid Language
• Stereotypical Images

Don’t you find that the above list sound too familiar in our everyday life? These are the very factors and areas that slowly erode the genius qualities in each of us!

Dr Thomas Armstrong then went on to teach us how to awaken the genius in each child. According to Dr Howard Gardner, a professor of education in Harvard University, the traditional notion of intelligence which we known as I.Q. is too limited to “label” someone as intelligent or not. We should in fact use the 8 different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. In our schools and culture, we focus most of the attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We should learn to discover the other intelligences in children to help them excel in their own way.

The 8 intelligences are:
Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
o People who are strong in linguistic-verbal intelligence are able to use words well, both when writing and speaking.
Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
o People who are strong in logical-mathematical intelligence are good at reasoning, recognizing patterns and logically analyze problems.
Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
o People who are strong in visual-spatial intelligence are good at visualizing things.
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
o Those who have high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are said to be good at body movement, performing actions and physical control.
Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
o People who have strong musical intelligence are good at thinking in patterns, rhythms and sounds.
Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
o Those who have strong interpersonal intelligence are good at understanding and interacting with other people.
Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
o Individuals who are strong in intrapersonal intelligence are good at being aware of their own emotional states, feelings and motivations.
Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
o These are individuals who are more in tune with nature and are often interested in nurturing, exploring the environment and learning about other species.

Look at the above list of intelligences. The first 2 are recognized in the classrooms and those who fall into these 2 intelligences are usually what we call the “Ace students” or high achievers in the schools. But not all children have the same type of intelligences. We should try to identify the type of intelligences in our child, and understand him to help him develop his talents from there. We should NEVER be too quick to dismiss our child as unintelligent just because he is not strong in “word smart” and “number/reasoning smart”. It is a pity that our education system emphasizes these 2 intelligences more than others. Even though they are making good changes these days, they still have a long way to go.

Genial Climate
Dr Thomas Armstrong went on to talk about creating a Genial Climate for your child which I think is worth remembering and applying in daily activities:
• Freedom to Choose
• Open-ended Exploration
• Freedom from Judgment
• Honoring Every Child’s Experience
• Believing in Every Child’s Genius
• Supporting Optimal Nutrition

In particular, I find the “Freedom to Choose” is very important especially in Asian parenting style. We tend to get overly worried and overly concerned that our child will choose the “wrong” option or make the wrong decision. Dr Thomas Armstrong suggests that we have free play time and let our child choose what he likes to play and let him guide us along. I agree that this will let loose the creativity in the child and boost his self-esteem at the same time.

He also highlighted that good health and good nutrition are needed to achieve one’s full educational potential because nutrition affects intellectual development and learning ability (quoted by World Health Organization Information Series on School Health).

S26 high tea

After such an informative talk, there was much to ponder about the way we guide our children. The folks at Wyeth Nutrition were really thoughtful to organize a special high tea cum Q&A session with Dr Thomas Armstrong at Table Manners in Changi City Point. They probably knew we needed some good food to nourish our much overworked brains.

During the Q&A session, the invited bloggers and media posed questions to Dr Thomas Armstrong. Many of the questions revolve around the stressful educational system in Singapore.

S26 event

I asked a question on how we should enable our children to strike a balance on catching up with the majority “enrichment” cohort while still be able to let them roam freely at play.

His direct answer to me was a question, “Why do you have to follow them?” It is a matter of believing in your own approach to raising children in a stressful society and not labeling the child as “ADHD” or “Autistic” or “Dyslexic”, etc. In fact, according to Dr Thomas Armstrong, we should NEVER label a child in his whole life. That would be equivalent to banishing him to a special group forever and we may never see the potential intelligence in him.

After reading the above informative sharing from the talk, are you now able to identify which of the 8 intelligences your child has? Will you be applying any of the mentioned Genial Climate activities in your child’s daily life? I certainly will!

Thanks to Wyeth Nutrition and Rise and Shine for the wonderful opportunity to attend the talk “8 kinds of smart: Discovering and Encouraging your child’s multiple intelligences” by Dr Thomas Armstrong.

If you find Wyeth Nutrition a familiar name, you have probably heard that from their lineup of S-26 milk powder products in supermarkets. Wyeth Nutrition milk powder products contain the Wyeth BioFactors System, which is a unique approach to combining nutrients so they work together to support a child’s learning abilities or how a child learns – by seeing, thinking and doing, at each exciting stage of the child’s development. Good nutrition helps support overall growth and development in these 3 key areas.
The unique combination now features up to 5x more DHA, 40% more Lutein and 20% more Choline (Based on S-26 Promise Gold and compared to previous formula). Also included are high quality whey protein including Alpha-lacatalbumin, Oligofructose and 5 kinds of Nucleotides to help support overall growth and development. Their range of milk powder includes S-26 Promil GOLD for 6mths onwards, S-26 Progress GOLD for toddlers between 1-3 years old and S-26 Promise GOLD for 3 years old and older.

If you would like to know more about Multiple Intelligences by Dr Thomas Armstrong, please click here.

If you would like to know more about S-26 nutritional products and how nutrition affects multi-dimensional learning, please click here.

Disclaimer: Thanks to Rise and Shine and Wyeth Nutrition for inviting me to attend this informative talk by Dr Thomas Armstrong. I have lots of after thoughts about this and the talk actually makes me rethink about how I view my kids’ behaviour. I hope my sharing here helps parents out there to NOT label their children and enable them to discover other areas of potential and intelligences other than academic intelligence. We have to really take care not to suppress the GENIUS in each of our children. Let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

12 thoughts on “Multiple Intelligences – How do you view your child?

  1. I have to stop and catch myself sometimes – I work hard not to be a joy-popper, as Mr. T calls it. I try not to steal his joy because he’s come up with an idea/program/something that I don’t understand or don’t think will work – I have to remember that he thinks totally different than I do and has a different life experience! I love this post and the reminder that everyone thinks/learns the same and I agree about never, ever labeling a kid!

    • You words of wisdom once again Kate! That’s so true that we are “joy-popper” sometimes! Just because we do not understand an idea or concept, doesn’t mean they are wrong or unacceptable! The kids have their own thoughts and we should celebrate that 🙂

  2. Thanks for this very detailed and informative post. I enjoyed reading it. Genial climate is something new and really food for thought for me, especially the points on freedom to choose and freedom from judgement. That’s something I can improve as a mom… I like his answer to your question too! Yes, we don’t have to follow the crowd!

    • I like the genial climate too. We adults interfere too much and kind of kill all creativity and kid’s potential. It’s really the parents’ way of viewing a child and reaction that matters to a child’s development. Very interesting talk.

  3. I think my daughter will be under spatial intelligence. Normally I will use ‘learning thru play’ method to teach her and she graps the concept more faster. It’s a good post which make me understand my daughter strength and make me teaching her easily. Thks Christy!

    • No problem Kelly. Glad that you are able to identify spatial intelligence in her. That helps a great deal in teaching a child. Now the hardest part come in remembering to let children have freedom to choose and explore and those mentioned in Genial Climate. I will revisit this post from time to time 🙂

  4. I can definitely see which ones are stronger or weaker in the eldest – the youngest not so sure yet. She hasn’t had as much chance to show off her talents (or lack thereof!)

    But it’s definitely true that school fits certain types of talents whereas the world as a whole supports a broader range. Something for us parents to keep in mind!

  5. A very interesting post indeed, thanks for sharing I believe in Multiple Intelligence thing, but its a pity that most of them are not “recognize” in our education system. So its really up to us not to judge and label our kids base on their abilities in school. So hard but we should try right?

    And I hope I can remember the points in Genial Climate and apply them to my kids.

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