You have been trying hard to teach your child, but he doesn’t quite grasp the concepts. You may think he’s a slow learner, but the real reason could be that your teaching method is not in sync with his natural style of learning.
According to the multiple intelligences theory by psychologist Howard Gardner, people learn more from lessons that have been tailored to suit their innate type of intelligence. The four common types are: picture-smart, word-smart, music-smart and body-smart. Try our non-scientific quiz to find out whether your kid possesses one or more of these traits.
Related: Is my child gifted?
1. When your child was a toddler, he:
a) loved gazing at the animal posters on the wall and staring out of the window
b) picked up new words quickly and expressed his needs verbally
c) clapped according to a rhythm and imitated your tone of voice
d) started walking early, dared to climb and enjoyed throwing a ball
2. During story time, he loves to read:
a) Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and sees small details in pictures
b) Lucy Cousins’ Good Night, Maisy and recognises the repetitive words
c) Dr Seuss tales that feature plenty of rhymes
d) Eric Hill’s Spot the Dog series that has lots of flip-ups
3. While drawing a picture, he:
a) draws elaborate figures and objects, and uses plenty of colours
b) writes down words to explain the pictures
c) hums or sings aloud
d) fidgets and is often distracted
4. In the kitchen, your child:
a) observes and takes a closer look at things
b) often asks “what’s that?” and “what are you doing?”
c) makes noises by hitting a fork and a spoon, or clanking a pot and a pan
d) becomes very enthusiastic about helping you to knead, stir and do other cooking chores
5. When you take him to the beach, he:
a) collects seashells of different sizes, patterns and colours
b) traces his name on the sand
c) listens to or imitates the sound of the waves, birds or a ship’s horn
d) builds sandcastles
7. When given a new toy, he:
a) scrutinises all the parts
b) attempts to read the instruction manual
c) makes “special effects” sounds
d) starts to explore and figures it out himself
8. During long rides or flights, he chooses to:
a) draw or colour
b) talk or play word games
c) listen to his favourite CD
d) play with blocks or dough
Mostly As: Picture-smart
You might often catch your kid doodling to keep himself occupied. He takes great pride in his drawings and wants them displayed on the wall or fridge. He takes in his surroundings, and details rarely escape his notice.
Foster his learning by presenting him with matching card games, exposing him to visual experiences through illustration-rich books, multimedia and exhibitions, and mapping out his study notes. Picture-smart individuals can succeed as architects, designers and filmmakers.
Mostly Bs: Word-smart
Your kid is probably a bookworm who carries a book with him wherever he goes. He also enjoys storytelling and word games, and has no problems with doing self-reading and launching into a conversation the moment anyone asks, “How’s your day?”.
You can enhance his learning by helping him to research his subject of interest through books, and encouraging him to write in his journal. Word-smart individuals thrive as politicians, journalists and lawyers.
Mostly Cs: Music-smart
Your kid might display a talent in music. He breaks into song and dance easily, and picks up musical instruments quickly. To apply his musical mind to his studies, encourage him to read aloud, listen to audiotapes, and even turn study notes into a ditty to remember them better! Sound-smart individuals do well as composers, dancers and audio engineers.
Mostly Ds: Body-smart
You’d probably describe your kid as active. You’ll find him on his feet and poking around most of the time. He’s likely to be good at sports and handy with tools. Thanks to his vivacious nature, he might find it challenging to engage in quiet, desk-bound study.
But the concept of taking learning outdoors suits him, so an exploratory trip to a museum, playing educational games and studying with hands-on materials will help to capture his attention. Body-smart individuals can excel as sportsmen, sculptors and surgeons.
Sources: Are You Smarter Than You Think? 160 Ways to Test and Enhance Your Natural Intelligence by Claire Gordon, and Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong. For a more comprehensive test, try this one.