This week, we will discuss learning styles and temperament: the diverse ways our children view and interact with the world. If we understand our unique child, and our own strengths and weaknesses in these areas, we can parent more effectively, helping our children reach their potential with fewer struggles along the way.
One way to look at learning styles is through Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. Children may have/be:
- Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)
- Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)
- Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)
- Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)
- Musical intelligence (“music smart”)
- Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)
- Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)
- Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)
To learn more about these types, see: http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/mi/index.html. Take a quiz to learn your own type at http://www.literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html
Think now about what intelligence your child excels in, but continue to re-evaluate as they develop new skills and new interests. As your child grows, you’ll want to let them choose some activities within their strength areas so they can feel smart and competent. However, you’ll also want to continue to expose them to other activities which challenge them to grow their skills in other intelligence areas.
The toddler years are an especially good time to stretch your child’s intelligences. We know that children’s brains have an immense capacity for learning a wide variety of skills, but if there are skills that are never used, they “prune” the connections for those. (See this post for an example of this from language development.) So, for my toddler, I actively think about all the realms of intelligence, and make sure we’re doing activities from all those realms: today we read books for linguistic intelligence, threw a ball for the dog for bodily-kinesthetic, looked at a rainbow for naturalistic intelligence, sang songs for musical intelligence and more.
Check out this article for ideas for toys and activities that build all these areas: http://www.peps.org/ParentResources/by-topic/development/physical/toys-games-babies-toddlers