Dear parents,

We trust that you are having a good week. In line with our commitment to adding value to you and yours’, please see below for information on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory and how you can use it to assist your children in their studies.


The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University. Howard Gardner felt that that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited and so he proposed eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. These intelligences are:

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”)

Based on this theory, it follows that the question parents should ask of their children is not: “How smart is my child?” but rather, “how is my child smart?” This is because all children possess one or more of the intelligences listed above. Howard Gardner’s theory has been widely accepted by educationists worldwide and is in use in many schools today.

How then can a parent use this information to help their child? It is imperative to know, first of all, that most children will possess a combination of these intelligences, for example, a child may be word smart, picture smart and people smart all at the same time. Once a parent has identified how their child is smart, study strategies should be planned around their child’s smartness.

Consider the following example: A parent whose child wants to study the science topic ‘Digestive system’, or the mathematics topic ‘logarithm’ can help the child, based on his or her intelligence, learn in the following way:

Linguistic intelligence Have the child read through the topic in the textbook and answer the questions at the end of the chapterHave the child read through the topic in the textbook and explain it to you afterwards
Logical-mathematical intelligenceThe child can be asked to explain each step in the process of digestion.Ask the child to tell you the step-by –step formula for calculating logarithm using an example
Spatial intelligenceUsing pictures of the digestive system from either a textbook or the internet, point to different parts in the digestive system and ask the child to identify each part and tell you its functionThe child can be asked to draw a flow chart [see below] to represent the different stages in calculating the logarithm of numbers.
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligenceCut a cardboard paper or ordinary white paper into about 8 equal squares, write different digestive parts on about 4 of the papers and write a function of each part on the other 4 papers. Ask the child to match each part with its corresponding functionArrange objects in groups, e.g 3 balls, 1 spoon, 10 plates, 14 dresses, etc. Ask the child to count the number of each item and calculate the logarithm of each number
Musical intelligenceThe child can be asked to form a 3minute song about the digestive parts and their functionThe child can be asked to form a 3- minute song about the steps in calculating the logarithm of a number
Interpersonal intelligenceYou can engage in a mini-competition with your child. Two of you can skim the textbook together and then set questions for each other to answer under timed conditions. Be sure to set questions for the child based on the objective of the lesson. Exchange work afterwards and mark.Inform the child that for today he/she will be the teacher and you the student. Allow him/her read the note for about 10 minutes and then teach you afterwards.
Intrapersonal intelligenceSet questions for the child based on the topic, allow her get the answers to your questions from the textbook or from the internet.Set questions from the textbook for the child based on the topic and let him solve it. Afterwards he can look in the textbook for the answers to the question.
Naturalist intelligenceThe entrails of an animal such as a cow, goat or fowl can be bought from the market and the child can be asked to identify each part and describe its functionIf you have a flower garden, the child can be taken outside, asked to count the number of flowers in a particular area, and to calculate the logarithm of that number


Example of a flow chart

Note that one major advantage of the multiple intelligence theory is that it makes learning fun for students, and when a child enjoys learning, he or she is motivated to learn even more.

In conclusion, no child is unable to learn. If a child seems unable to learn, it may be that one may need to explore other ways of teaching the child, using the child’s intelligence smartness.

For comments or questions, email the school counsellor at

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