JUNE 19, 2019

How to Use the Multiple Intelligences Method to Homeschool


Multiple Intelligences approach to education is based on the theory by Howard Gardner. Gardner is a developmental psychologist and professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education. He proposed this theory in his book, Frames of Mind, which was published in 1983.

Multiple Intelligences for Individual Potential

The theory of Multiple Intelligence views each child as intelligent in their own way. Individual potential is often determined by academic success. But, academics are not the only way to be successful.

If you judge a fish by how well it can climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it is stupid. Gardener’s approach includes eight different types of intelligence or “smarts”:

  • Verbal-linguistic (or Word Smart)
  • Logical-mathematical (or Logic Smart)
  • Naturalistic (or Nature Smart)
  • Interpersonal (or People Smart)
  • Intrapersonal (or Self Smart
  • Visual-spatial (or Picture Smart)
  • Bodily-kinesthetic (or Body Smart)
  • Musical-rhythmic (or Music Smart)

Everyone is smart. Education should not leave the child wondering “am I smart?” Instead, education should teach children to explore “how am I smart?”

How Am I Smart?

What are your child’s favorite subjects in school? What are their interests and habits? How do they spend their time and money? What do they talk about?

  • Likes words, picks up vocabulary and languages, talks a lot. That’s people smart.
  • Likes numbers and science, sees patterns and connections, asks “why?” That’s logic smart.
  • Likes animals, notices surroundings, has a green thumb. That’s nature smart
  • Likes people, notices body language, communicates and makes friends easily. That’s people smart.
  • Knows themselves, sets goals, likes time alone for reflective thought. That’s self-smart.
  • Thinks in pictures, remembers faces, draws/doodles a lot. That’s picture smart.
  • Thinks with movement and touch, has busy hands/feet, likes crafting and building. That’s body smart.
  • Likes music, makes musical sounds with the body (snapping, clapping, humming, drumming). That’s music smart.

Also, how do they misbehave? For example, a word smart person may also lie or gossip. Or talk too much. The number of words and the content of the words can be an indicator of this kind of “smarts”. Consider what other misbehaviors might also be indicators of other kinds of smarts.

Nurture Unique Abilities with Multiple Intelligences

Most people have two or three types of intelligence. This unique combination of smarts equips individuals for success. The teacher’s role is to nurture all types of smarts.

Avoid teaching to one type of intelligence or labeling students to one type. Individuals can develop unexpected types of intelligence or may change over their lifetime. Exposure to all the possible abilities enables individuals to discover their unique abilities.

Note: Multiple Intelligence approach is *NOT* the same thing as learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Learning styles involves the various senses to take in information. Multiple Intelligence theory is about how the brain processes information.

Problem-solving Possibilities

Multiple intelligences theory can be applied to any subject. It does not specify any particular scope and sequence for study topics. Whatever the subject, students approach understanding from different viewpoints.

Multiple intelligences are problem-solving capabilities. There are multiple ways to solve a
problem, especially problems that are complex and require innovative thinking. Any problem has logical, poetic, social, rhythmical, artistic, musical, physical and geographic points of entry.

Offer a variety of learning experiences so students can learn about their preferences. Allow students to use all the types of intelligence to solve a problem — read about it, examine it, draw it, act it out, work to a rhythm, relate it to nature, talk about it, or reflect on it.

Is the Multiple Intelligence Approach right for you?

Meet Kim!

Kim Andrysczyk is a secular homeschool veteran, homeschool group leader, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and an accidental blogger. She’s the self-appointed busybody of homeschooling in South Carolina, always on the lookout for new connections to people, places, and resources. Find her at The South Carolina Homeschooling Connection and Facebook.