According to Dr. Kathy Koch, educator, founder of Celebrate Kids, and author of 8 Great Smarts, every person, young and old, needs to know they are smart.
“Smart is a powerful word,” says Koch. “When children discover that they are smart, they are more willing to engage with all of life, including school. Children who don’t think of themselves as intelligent don’t tend to engage. They say to themselves, ‘I’m not smart enough, so studying won’t help.’ Children who believe deep down they have a brain and they are supposed to use it are children who will have more joy and purpose, and their lives are more vibrant.”
When Koch taught second grade, she became concerned when she realized some of her children were already classifying themselves as not intelligent. Even some of the parents doubted their child’s ability to do well at a very early age.
“The wrong question is, ‘Am I smart?’” Koch says. “Stupid is a choice. We were not created that way. Early on in my work, I discovered research conducted by psychologist Howard Gardner from Harvard University, who found that all of us have one brain divided into eight parts, and there are eight different ways of being intelligent. The better question is, ‘How am I smart?’”
Eight Different Ways of Being Intelligent
- Words – power of language – talking
- Logic – power of questions – asking
- Picture – power of observation – seeing
- Music – power of sound and music – hearing
- Body – power of movement – doing
- Nature – power of patterns – collecting
- People – power of people – relating
- Self – power of quiet – reflecting
“There are many children who are smart in ways that don’t make school easier,” Koch says. “For example, if your child is self-smart or nature-smart, the classroom experience could be challenging for them. For a child who is picture-smart, when his teacher describes a historical reality, he pictures it in his mind. Many children will say, ‘You mean because I draw well, I am smart? I thought I was just a good drawer.’”
Additionally, body-smart children are athletic, can dance or can kick the ball through the goal post with both feet. Music-smart children aren’t just talented. Those who are people-smart think with other people, brainstorm, network and read body language well. For someone who is word-smart, words are a big part of their existence. They can gossip and tease well and often arrange conversations so they have the last word. They must be taught self-control.
“I want to equip parents to recognize that their children do what they do because of how they are smart,” Koch says. “Then I can help guide them to help their children do what they do well. Children who know they are smart are more likely to flourish.”