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The Secret to Helping Your Child Excel in School and in Life

The Secret to Helping Your Child Excel in School and in Life
    Photo credit: melanerpist (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Is your child struggling in school? Does your child stall when it comes time to do homework? Does your child’s teacher often comment that your child is capable, but is just not working to his or her potential? Or does your child do alright in school, but seems a bit bored or lacks enthusiasm for learning?

    Well, there is a secret that you need to know in order for you to change this.

    We are all born with certain propensities. We enjoy doing some things more than others and we see the world and experience it from a certain perspective. Parents can often say, “Oh, Johnny could stay outdoors playing in the dirt all day long,” or “Susie is such a people person”. At a very early age children show what they enjoy doing and what they are naturally interested in. Paying attention to this can be very beneficial to parents and in turn, to their children.

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    The Theory of Multiple Intelligences

    Dr. Howard Gardner, Professor of Education at Harvard University, developed a theory called Multiple Intelligences. The theory suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, which is based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited.

    Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults. Here’s a brief summary of these eight intelligences:

    1. Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart): This type of intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals. This intelligence includes the ability to effectively use language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically; and language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers and speakers are among those that Gardner sees as having high linguistic intelligence.
    2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart): This type consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically. In Gardner’s words, it entails the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
    3. Musical Intelligence (Music Smart): This type involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns. It encompasses the capacity to recognize and compose musical pitches, tones, and rhythms.
    4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (Body Smart): This type entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements.
    5. Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart): This type involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space and more confined areas.
    6. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart): This type is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others. Educators, salespeople, religious and political leaders and counsellors all need a well-developed interpersonal intelligence.
    7. Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart): This type entails the capacity to understand oneself, to appreciate one’s feelings, fears and motivations.
    8. Naturalist Intelligence (Nature Smart): This type enables human beings to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. A number of schools in North America have looked to structure curricula according to these intelligences, and to design classrooms and even whole schools to reflect the understandings that Howard Gardner developed. It takes a commitment though from school boards, administrators and teachers to put something like this into practice.

    Dr. Gardner says that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We hold the highly articulate or logical people of our culture in great esteem. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.

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    Unfortunately, many children who have these gifts don’t receive much reinforcement for them in school. Many of these kids, in fact, end up being labeled “learning disabled,” “ADD,” or simply underachievers, when their unique ways of thinking and learning aren’t addressed by a heavily linguistic or logical-mathematical classroom.

    So, if your child’s school does not teach based on these principles, how can you as the parent use them to help your child be successful in school and in life? Let’s first take a look at how Howard Gardner’s theory would work in a classroom. Then, we’ll look at how you can use these techniques at home.

    Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom

    Let’s say that a teacher needs to teach a lesson about The Law of Supply and Demand. They might do any or all of the following:

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    • Read to their students about it (linguistic)
    • Study mathematical formulas that express it (logical-mathematical)
    • Examine a graphic chart that illustrates the principle (spatial)
    • Observe the law in the natural world (naturalist)
    • Observe the law in the human world of commerce (interpersonal)
    • Examine the law in terms of one’s own body, such as when you supply your body with lots of food, the hunger demand goes down; when there’s very little supply, your stomach’s demand for food goes way up and you get hungry (bodily-kinesthetic and interpersonal)
    • Write a song (or find an existing song) that demonstrates the law like Bob Dylan’s “Too Much of Nothing? or John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change”.

    It isn’t necessary for teachers to teach something in all eight ways. But it is necessary for them to see what the possibilities are, and then decide which particular pathways align best with the topic.

    In addition, a teacher should also provide students with an opportunity to discover which intelligence best describes themselves. After students are aware of this they can take charge of their learning. When they study for tests they can relate all the ideas to topics that mean something to them. When they work on a project they can present it in a way that most makes sense to them.

    Multiple Intelligences in the Home

    If your child’s school doesn’t work this way then you can still teach this to your child and they can still use the strategy to study and complete projects and assignments. Here’s how:

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    1. Have your child take this test, which determines their intelligence. Then, describe all eight intelligences to them in language appropriate to their age so that they will have a clearer understanding of each one.
    2. Once your child is clear about how they learn and how this is innately what they enjoy, then the next step is to show them how they can use this with their school work.
    3. When an assignment or project comes home tell them to put the topic of whatever the project is in the center of a blank sheet of paper, and draw eight straight lines or “spokes” radiating out from this topic. Label each line with a different intelligence. Then start brainstorming ideas for learning or showing that topic and write down ideas next to each intelligence. They might just want to do the assignment in a way that aligns with their intelligence, but it’s important for them to know that everyone has a little of each intelligence — so they can mix and match too.

    With anything new, this process will need guidance and practice. However, you will be amazed at how quickly they catch on and how engrossed in their homework they will be simply by taking this approach.

    Conclusion

    Our world has become smaller due to globalization and it’s also becoming a world where different “traits” or intelligences are needed. Let’s help our children understand and feel good about themselves. With these two things in place they will feel confident to use what they’ve got to help make their difference in this world.

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    Last Updated on December 3, 2019

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

    There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

    Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

    1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

    Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

    There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

    Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

    2. Pace Yourself

    Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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    Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

    Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

    3. You Can’t Please Everyone

    “I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

    You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

    Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

    4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

    Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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    We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

    Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

    5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

    “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

    No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

    We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

    6. It’s Not All About You

    You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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    It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

    7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

    No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

    We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

    Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

    8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

    That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

    Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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    Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

    9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

    Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

    The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

    10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

    We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

    When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

    Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

    This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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    Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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