Multiple Intelligence Theory and Practice

Multiple Intelligence Theory was developed by Howard Gardner of Harvard University. It takes the idea of traditional IQ, or “book smarts” a step further and includes the following 8 areas as different forms of intelligence:

  • Linguistic– good with language, reading and writing
  • Logical/Mathematical– good with math concepts, numbers and logical thinking
  • Spatial– good at visualizing, including concepts of space, reading maps, puzzles
  • Kinesthetic– good muscle coordination and motor skills including sports, dance, etc.
  • Musical– good with music and musical concepts
  • Interpersonal– good people skills
  • Intrapersonal– good knowledge of self, emotional awareness
  • Natural– good in nature including understanding of life cycles, natural systems, plants and animals

Everyone has different levels of ability in each of these areas. By understanding a child’s strengths we can teach in a way that makes it easier for children to learn.

It is clear that using Multiple Intelligences helps teachers to teach and children to learn. This was the finding of a MI Research Project entitled “Multiple Intelligences Schools” conducted by Project Zero, a part of Harvard’s graduate school of education.

The initial findings suggest that MI helps schools in several ways. It offers a vocabulary for teachers to use in discussing children’s strengths and in developing curriculum; it validates the practices of teachers whose work is already synchronous with MI theory; it promotes or justifies education in diverse art forms; and it encourages teachers to work in teams, complementing their own strengths with those of their colleagues. It also encourages schools to devise rich educational experiences for children from diverse backgrounds.

I am a big believer in MI Theory. It is the basis for all of the preschool and kindergarten curriculum I develop at WoWKits.

I find it helpful to think about the different intelligences as I try to come up with creative ways to help kids experience a particular concept. Take counting for example. The logical/mathematical kids may be successful counting objects and identifying the correct number symbol. The language kids may enjoy using the number words to count. The kids with strong musical intelligence will probably pick up counting skills through songs. Kids who favor the interpersonal intelligence might understand the concept better if it’s taught through group games, like rolling a ball back and forth with a partner and together counting the number of passes. I love the challenge of coming up with activities to engage all of the intelligences.

Have you used MI Theory? What have been your experiences? What would you like to learn? Post your thoughts here and see what our early childhood community has to say…

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One Response

  1. I live in Spain and have a six year old son who is bilingual, I have worked as a language teacher and environmental educator in the past and would now like to develop classes to help Spanish children develop their English skills outside of the formal and often dull classroom setting, using art, science, music, drama… any suggestions for literature or how to get started on developing my own “curriculum”? This is all very interesting and exciting!

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