Each child is unique. Even in the same family, the children are often as different as chalk and cheese. Howard Gardner, a psychologist, claimed that just as each human being has a distinct and unique DNA profile, so each human being has a unique thinking profile, a way of demonstrating intelligence.
Parents and educationalists would be better able to provide the best learning environment for children if they first established their multiple intelligence profile.
Gardner identified seven intelligences which he called Multiple Intelligences, although he added more later.
- Visual/Spatial intelligence - learners normally think in pictures. They like visual stimuli such as pictures, films, videos and maps. Children with this intelligence demonstrate an appreciation of reading, drawing, puzzles, maps and charts.
- Verbal/Linguistic intelligence - learners have a highly developed ability with words and the rules of language. Children with this intelligence love listening to stories, telling stories, learning new words and describing events.
- Logical/Mathematical intelligence - this intelligence has to do with logic and reasoning. These children tend to be analytical and logical. They enjoy tasks involving numbers, making patterns and problem solving.
- Bodily/Kinaesthetic intelligence - these learners are good at movement and learn through physical interaction with their environment. Children with this intelligence enjoy activities such as dancing, playing physical games, running and acting.
- Musical/Rhythmic intelligence - learners are sensitive to rhythmic sounds, pitch and patterns. Children with this intelligence respond positively to music and poems. They enjoy singing, making up tunes and rhymes and playing musical instruments.
- Interpersonal intelligence - these learners have the ability to relate to others and are often sensitive to the feelings of others. Children who have this intelligence love being around people and enjoy group work and discussions.
- Intrapersonal intelligence - these learners are reflective and have the ability to analyse their own feelings. They often prefer to work out problems and arrive at an understanding of a subject on their own.
Gardner believed that people use all these intelligences at the same time and that they complement each other as people develop their skills and learn to solve problems. A child might be dominantly visual but the other intelligences can play a significant part in their learning depending on the task in hand. Knowing a child's intelligence make up and how tasks can be presented to complement the child's strongest ability, can make his or her learning more effective and efficient.