7 Intelligences


Every child has at least seven ways of being smart or seven intelligences. Each way is important. Your child may be stronger in some ways than in others. This section explains how children are smart at different ages in their development. It also has ideas to help children grow in each of these 7 ways. These activities are just ideas to get you started. The most important thing is to have fun with your child while learning. You are your child's first and most important teacher. You will know by watching your child if he likes an activity. If he is bored or wants to do something else, change the activity.

The IQ test as we know it today grew out of the work of French psychologist Alfred Binet, who, in the early years of the 20th century, devised a test to identify children whose learning problems required remedial education. Over the years it has become the standard measure of intelligence while provoking fierce, passionate debate among academics, educators, and lay public. Typically, the IQ test predominantly measures an individual’s ability with linguistic and logical-mathematical challenges as well as some visual and spatial tasks.

In 1983, Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University, developed “The theory of multiple intelligences”. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Howard Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

  • Linguistic
  • Logical-mathematical
  • Visual-Spatial
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal

Howard Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We respect the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Howard Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live. Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school. Many of these children, in fact, end up being labelled “learning disabled,” “ADD (attention deficit disordered)”, or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom.

The theory of multiple intelligences proposes a major transformation in the way our schools are run. It suggests education must value all the different aspects of intelligence, not just those that can be easily measured using paper and pencil test. It suggests that teachers be trained to present their lessons in a wide variety of ways using music, co-operative learning, art activities, role play, multimedia, field trips, inner reflection, and much more.

Multiple intelligences theory also has strong implications for adult learning and development. Many adults find themselves in jobs that do not make optimal use of their most highly developed intelligences (for example, the highly bodily-kinesthetic individual who is stuck in a linguistic or logical desk-job when he or she would be much happier in a job where they could move around, such as a recreational leader, a sports coach, or physical therapist).

The theory of multiple intelligences gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood (such as a love for art or drama) but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programs of self-development.

What are the eight Multiple Intelligences?


The ability to read, write and communicate with words. To think in words and to use language to express and understand complex meanings. Sensitivity to the meaning of words as well as the order of words. their words, their sounds, rhythms, inflections. To reflect on the use of language in everyday life.


The ability to reason and calculate, to think things through in a logical systematic manner. To think of cause and effect connections and to understand relationships among actions, objects or ideas. To be able to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and perform complex mathematical or logical operations. It involves inductive and deductive reasoning skills as well as critical and creative problem-solving.


The ability to think in pictures and to perceive the visual world accurately. To be able to think in three-dimensions and to transform one’s perceptions and re-create aspects of one’s visual experience via imagination. To work with objects.


The ability to use your body skillfully to solve problems, create products, or present ideas and emotions. To think in movements and to use the body in skilled and complicated ways for expressive as well as goal-directed activities. It involves a sense of timing and co-ordination for whole body movement and the use of hands for manipulating objects.


The ability to make or compose music, to sing well, or understand and appreciate music. To think in sounds, rhythms, melodies and rhymes. To be sensitive to pitch, rhythm, timbre and tone. To be able to recognise, create and reproduce music by using an instrument or the voice. It involves active listening and there is a strong connection between music and emotions.


The ability to work effectively with others, to relate to other people and display empathy and understanding, to notice their motovations and goals. To think about and understand another person. To have empathy and recognise distinctions among people and to appreciate their perspectives with a sensitivity to their motives, moods and intentions. It involves interacting effectively with one or more people among family, friends or working relationships.


To think about and understand one’s self. To be aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and to plan effectively to achieve personal goals. It involves reflecting on and monitoring one’s thoughts and feelings and regulating them effectively. The ability to monitor one’s self in interpersonal relationships and to act with personal efficacy.

Books & Resources

7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Many Intelligences - Armstrong, Thomas.

Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences - Gardner, Howard.

Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice - Gardner, Howard.

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