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How Children Learn

The Seven Intelligences

Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences maps out intelligences, or mental capacities, of humans. Traditional classroom education is useful to only two (linguistic/logical-mathematical) of these seven basic types. These theories are especially useful to home educating families as we have the freedom to present information in any type of format. Musical children can sing their multiplication tables. Spatially oriented children can use videos. Kinesthetic learners can use manipulatives for math and etc.

  • Musical: The capacity to perceive, express, transform or discern musical forms.
  • Linguistic: The capacity to use words effectively, in writing or in speech, to persuade, to remember information, to explain.
  • Logical-Mathematical: The ability to use numbers effectively and to reason well, to recognize and solve problems using logical patterns to categorize, infer, make generalizations and test hypotheses.
  • Spatial: The capacity to perceive the visual world accurately, to transform and recreate visual perceptions.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Expertise in using one’s body to express ideas and feelings, often goal-oriented, as in the fine motor ability of a sculptor or the flexibility and grace of a dancer.
  • Intrapersonal: The capacity for self-knowledge – to detect and discern among one’s own feelings – and the ability to use that knowledge for personal understanding.
  • Interpersonal: The ability to notice and make distinctions among other individuals, being attuned to their moods, temperaments and intentions.

Note: There are probably as many types of intelligences as there are people on the planet. For us, the point of Garner’s theory is that not everyone learns best by sitting at a desk with a textbook. You know how your children learn best and can use that information to be creative in your home program.

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