For the past year and a half now, we have been focusing on the various kinds of intelligences, as described by Dr. Howard Gardner in his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Our articles explored the different intelligences, the signs that could indicate that your child was strong in a certain kind of intelligence, and tips to hone that intelligence.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) proposes that children have different types of intelligences (Linguistic, Spatial, Musical, Bodily-Kinaesthetic, and so on) and hence, learn differently. Howcan this theory be applied in real life? To understand its use and application in schools and at home, we spoke to Malini Bharadhwaj, Academic Head of Klay School, which integrates MI theory within its teaching strategy. Bharadhwaj begins by pointing out that MI can be applied even in a large country like India. “If teachers would just take some time to plan and implement lesson plans, then MI wouldn’t be very hard to introduce, even in a large classroom with say 40-50 students, which is the average size of an Indian class,” claims Bharadhwaj. In our country, we still encourage our children to take up a specific ‘serious’ stream after Grade 10, say science or commerce, without really considering children’s aptitudes. If schools were to use MI within their systems, parents would have a better understanding of their child’s talents and strengths. Consequently, a child would be free to pursue an education or career best suited to her intelligence, rather than being forced into a particular popular subject or stream. “Therefore,” says Bharadhwaj, “Schools like Klay School that choose to involve the parents of the students, are educating not only children, but the parents as well.”Parents can play an important role in using MI practices and ideas when interacting with their children at home. Here are some simple ideas— read through these, and they should encourage you to be creative and come up with similar tactics to hone your child’s intelligence, and use MI to enrich her learning in all areas.
Is your child struggling with maths, but is musically inclined? She might learn better if you used the tune of a catchy rhyme like ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’, but with the words replaced with numbers. Or an older child can be encouraged to set the key points of a newly learnt concept to music !
Engage your child’s interest in various ways; for example instead of just saying ‘A is for Apple’, show her a picture card or an image of someone holding an apple. When she is playing, ask her to pretend that a red ball is an apple. This, essentially, reinforces the concept of the letter ‘A’ in varied ways.
Encourage experimentation and hands-on learning. For instance, looking for and closely observing actual butterfly eggs to study the life cycle of a butterfly, or teaching children how the government functions by role-playing a model government with roles for each family member. This could also be a fun activity for family time!
If your child struggles with dates and names in history, consider acting out the historical periods together to help her learn and remember better.
Children who struggle with geography or science can be taught outdoors, where the things they are studying about are actually all around them. This makes the learning visual.
“MI is very inclusive,” points out Bharadhwaj. “Under the MI method, not only is the child who can learn just by sitting in the classroom gaining information, but the child who can understand concepts using music or play-acting will learn as well. In general, in a class of 50-60 students, only around 5% of the children understand immediately; others often struggle to learn. Teaching within an MI framework offers them various ways to learn, and every student will find at least one strategy that works for her.”
ParentEdge has explored MI in detail in previous issues and given you some ideas of how you can use this learning system at home with your children. Now it is up to you, parents, to be creative, think differently, and come up with ideas on how you can enrich your child’s learning by nurturing your child’s unique intelligence. The time you invest in this will be well worth the effort, lessening academic stress on your child, and helping her develop a more rounded personality.