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Dr. Spencer Kagan

Raising Smarter Children - Develop Your Child's Many Ways of Being Smart

Dr. Spencer Kagan & Miguel Kagan

To cite this article: Kagan, S. & Kagan, M. Raising Smarter Children – Develop Your Child's Many Ways of Being Smart. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Kagan Online Magazine, Fall 2004. www.KaganOnline.com

Dr. Spencer Kagan directs Kagan Publishing and Professional Development, a leading educational organization in the United States.


Most parents dream of having smart children. We all want the best for our kids. Parents can play a tremendous role in making that dream a reality.

Parents can develop their babies' intelligence by exposing them to a wide variety of stimulating activities that span the intelligences.

Our understanding of intelligence has changed dramatically since our parents were raising us. The traditional notion of intelligence was that we were born with a certain level intelligence. Intelligence was fixed at birth. For our entire lives, our intelligence level for the most part was predetermined.

If your parents or family were bright, you had a good chance of being of being smart. You might even become a genius. Conversely, if your parents were swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool, chances were, you'd never reach the deep end either. The traditional notion of intelligence would have us believe that the potential of each child was limited at birth. The modern view of intelligence is based on brain plasticity. That is, we are learning that the experience we provide our children has a tremendous impact on their intelligence and their potential.

Is Mozart less of a genius than Einstein? Or simply a different kind of genius?

Dr. Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist, is one of a number of modern scientists who challenge the theory that intelligence is fixed, and that intelligence is a unitary entity. These scientists argue quite convincingly that we are not stuck with the same level of intelligence bestowed upon us at birth. And even more revolutionary, they suggest that there is not one thing called intelligence. There are multiple intelligences — many ways to be smart.

Einstein's name has become synonymous with genius. But there are many different ways to be smart.

Think of Mozart. He was a musical genius. A genius. His symphonies, operas, and concertos were nothing short of brilliant. Mozart was music smart.

Einstein, on the other hand, was logic and math smart. His name is virtually synonymous with intelligence thanks to his accomplishments in mathematics and physics. Was Mozart less intelligent than Einstein? It depends on your definition of intelligence. According to Multiple Intelligences theories, Einstein and Mozart are both smart, but in very different ways. There are many ways to be smart. Our children are smart in many different ways too.

Dr. Gardner has identified eight intelligences. We all possess all eight intelligences and they are differently developed in each of us. The chart below illustrates the skills associated with each intelligence and typical professions associated with each intelligence.

The Eight Ways to Be Smart

Intelligence Skilled With Typical Professions Famous Individual
Verbal/Linguistic reading, writing, speaking, listening, vocabulary authors, speakers Shakespeare
Logical/Mathematical numbers, logic, computation, analysis, synthesis accountants, lawyers, scientists Einstein
Visual/Spatial design, color, detail artist, architects van Gogh
Musical/Rhythmic playing, composing, singing musicians, lyricists Mozart
Bodily/Kinesthetic motor skills actors, athletes Tiger Woods
Naturalist natural world and phenomena biologists, oceanologists Charles Darwin
Interpersonal relationships teachers, politicians, salespeople Mother Teresa
Intrapersonal introspection, feelings, beliefs psychiatrists, philosophers, theologians Mohammed


Look at the typical professions for each intelligence. Aren't these valued professions in society? Look at the famous individuals. They were all very smart, but in very different ways. Each child has the potential to be smart, but each in different ways. Granted, not every child has the potential to be an Einstein or Mozart. But as parents, we can foster the development of each child's unique pattern of intelligence.

Each child's mind is unique. Encourage your child to reach his or her full potential.

As educators who work to enhance student learning and achievement, we embrace the multiple intelligences theory. It aligns very well with our work with teachers and schools. For years we have been developing instructional strategies to make learning more engaging and interactive for students. We share our methods with tens of thousands of teachers each year through our workshops and publications. Schools that adopt multiple intelligences approaches are reporting impressive gains on traditional academic tests as well as in the areas of art, music, physical education, social relations, and understanding of self and nature.

As a parent, you might be asking, "What can I do to help my child learn?" The answer is a lot! As parents, we can help our children become smarter in many ways by exposing our children to a rich array of learning activities that develop their many ways of being smart. Below are some ideas for developing babies' and children's multiple intelligences:

Developing your Baby's Multiple Intelligences

Intelligence Activities
Verbal/Linguistic • Read to your baby
• Develop your baby's vocabulary by associating your actions and objects with words
Logical/Mathematical • Count with your baby
• Point out patterns and numbers
• Use simple addition and subtraction
Visual/Spatial • Draw for you baby
• Share pictures and visuals with your baby
• Allow your baby to scribble with colors
Musical/Rhythmic • Sing to your baby
• Play music
• Expose your child to a wide variety of sounds and musical patterns
Bodily/Kinesthetic • Touch and describe different body parts
• Encourage baby to manipulate toys and blocks
Naturalist • Take your baby outdoors to focus on trees and plants
• Get a pet
• Visit the zoo or botanical garden
Interpersonal • Allow your baby to interact with other babies
• Play imitation games with your baby
Intrapersonal • Allow your baby occasional quiet and alone time

 

Developing your Child's Multiple Intelligences

Intelligence Activities
Verbal/Linguistic • Read about it
• Listen to an oral presentation or story
• Keep a learning journal
• Prepare an oral presentation
Logical/Mathematical • Perform an experiment
• Compare and contrast
• Have your child perform calculations —balance a check book, calculate charges and change
Visual/Spatial • Visit an art museum
• Take and evaluate photographs
• Watch a video program
• Create a drawing
Musical/Rhythmic • Sing together
• Listen to a wide variety of music types
• Play an instrument
• Compose
Bodily/Kinesthetic • Act it out
• Engage in sports, ballet, gymnastics
• Touch it, manipulate it
• Build a model
Naturalist • Investigate flora and fauna with your child
• Investigate with a magnifying glass, microscope, telescope
Interpersonal • Interact with a wide range of individuals and personality types
• Discuss why others do what they do
• Understand the point of view of others
Intrapersonal • Allow alone time, meditation
• Discuss or journal about plans, values, feelings
• Discuss dreams


In a series of articles for Kagan Online Magazine, we will provide ideas and activities to help parents develop their children's many different ways to be smart.