Parents are the only people who observe their children in all their dimensions. Other adults see their children in narrow and limited environments such as school, sports, arts, and occasional contacts. As parents, you see your children as unique people because you observe their talents, challenges, and personalities across all parts of life.
When parents try to talk about ways in which they see their children as “smart” or “intelligent,” they are often hampered by the limited way in which society defines intelligence. In school, intelligence is often associated with the quality of performance in language, logic, and math. Other measures of “smart” are supplied in extra curricular activities, clubs, or sports. But intelligence is far broader and more complex then the three primary areas around which schools are organized.
Eight Different Types of Intelligence
Years ago, the Harvard University professor, Howard Gardner, Ph.D., researched intelligence and created a framework that gave us a broader view of the qualities that constitute being “smart.” He reported that there are eight different types of intelligence that he labeled Multiple Intelligences. Each person is strong in one or several of these different intelligences.
In my private practice, high school and college students have significantly benefited from using the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) to determine how their natural mental abilities form their multiple intelligences. Each intelligence requires different types of learning, problem solving, and interaction with the world. Because the HAB assesses natural abilities in memory, problem solving, and personal style, students get a deeper understanding of their multiple intelligences. This understanding helps them make major life decisions about college, majors, and careers.
The eight multiple intelligences identified by Dr. Gardner are
- Interpersonal or “people” smarts such as creating strong relationships
- Intrapersonal or “self” smarts such as knowing what you like and don’t like
- Musical or “music” smarts such as composing, enjoying, and playing music
- Logic-Math or “numbers and reasoning” smarts such as solving advanced math problems
- Linguistic or “word” smarts such as writing articles or enjoying reading
- Spatial or “picture” smarts such as painting, drawing, or designing
- Body-Kinesthetic or “body” smarts such as dancing and playing sports
- Naturalistic or “nature” smarts such as in gardening or caring for animals
If you use Gardner’s broad definitions about the various ways to define “smart,” you will view your childrens’ intelligences and talents through a different lens, and improve the ways in which you support their development. I have found that the Highlands Ability Battery gives high school and college students an easy framework to explore how to build their lives around their unique multiple intelligences.