Thursday, August 20th, 2009

Beyond words and numbers

child-dec14If you see your kid doodling, do not fret thinking he is wasting his time when he should be studying. Rather use this act of drawing images while teaching him. And you may find it to be an effective learning sty le of his.

Kirti sings the mathematical formulas quietly to herself. Kavisha learns spellings by tapping her pencil in rhythmic patterns. Krish needs to put everything in points in order to cram. Anika draws pictures first and then explains the objects. Raghav puts his own logic to extend his knowledge of simple facts to harder ones. These children naturally express their preferred intelligences as they attempt to master their school assignments

Intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.”- Howard Gardner

We are all endowed with different personalities, special skills, preferences and tastes. And our ways of learning are as diverse as the colors of the rainbow. Parents and teachers must observe and value these differences in their children. Once we are all aware of our children’s strengths and know what kind of learners they are, we can build up activities that will make the most of their abilities and increase the chances of their success.

“God never makes junk! Each one of us is special and has a unique set of qualities that just needs right encouragement and sometimes guidance to blossom”, says Dr Rima Sehgal, counselor at Bal Bharti school, Ghaziabad.

Think of any one child or person who is not doing well in life and you would be able to find one or the other intelligences highly present in her. Unfortunately, in our society a child’s worth is determined by her Report Card, and parents have limited and comparative vision regarding their child’s future and career goals. As part of the rat race, every second person either thinks of Engineering, Medicine, CA, CS, BBA or maximum variation can be teaching career for girls! This happens when there are around 30,000 listed careers available!

Nitya Ramaswami, Head Child Development and Academics, Zee Schools, says, “Principally any child when posed with a concept confronts it with questions as–what, why, how and what if I do it this way? We would be devoid of inventions, had all of us thought in a singular pattern. Newton is a classic instance of ‘why’ intelligence and Bill Gates corresponds to the school of ‘what if I do it this way’ intelligence.”

But our conventional education system is focused towards rat race. The paradox is even you win this race you’re still a rat.

Other than the two intelligences that we focus on-linguistic and mathematical skills, there are six other intelligences that are equally important to a holistic human development. They include–visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, naturalist and intra personal intelligence.

These Multiple Intelligences are eight different learning styles or ways to demonstrate our intellectual abilities, which was conceived by renowned educational psychologist, Dr. Howard Gardner,

Intelligences are not fixed, rather static, which means they can be developed. Every human being is blessed with all the intelligences, it is just a matter of being less or more developed in particular intelligence.

Let’s survey and understand our children’s intelligences and make them their guide. In fact, there can be no one better than parents to assess the leanings of the child. Pay attention to the questions of your children and the activities he tries to do. Like does he dismantle household equipments or he asks questions. Whether he is good with expressions, sways to beats of music or doodles on walls. Observe your child if he plays a leader in a game and see what activities disinterest him. “Once you have a clue of the bend of the mind of your child, learning becomes a child’s play”, reasons Nitya.

Making children understand their strongest skills and the many ways they are intelligent will help them channelize their potential on the right path.

It is very important to encourage children to discover and tap into their intelligences. Creating a rich, fostering, and a motivating environment filled with interesting and constructive materials, toys, games and books, lays the foundation for healthier, happier and brighter children! Students who have such kinds of experiences know many ways to learn almost anything!

How do I judge towards which intelligence is my child inclined to?

While playing with your little one, chalk out a few activities and give him options to perform…solve a puzzle…sing a song………draw a picture or tell a story. You do not need to repeat all the activities every time but keep adding new ones and repeating just two or three. Soon his interest will come to the fore. Use this interest as his learning channel. You might also come to see a blend of intelligences in him.

Expose your child to a variety of activities and things that he is passionate about and wants to do. Allow him to express his knowledge in a range of ways. Soon you would notice recurring success and enjoyment in certain areas. That would be hint enough on the talent or specific high intelligence areas.

Tips for parents-

  • Understand that intelligence is not fixed and there are innumerable options open for the child in spite of poor or average academics. Every human being is blessed with all the eight intelligences; it is just a matter of being less or more developed in a particular intelligence.
  • Help your child develop self-esteem that is essential to bring about any positive change, through appreciation and affection.
  • Find out the exact cause of poor performance and help the child do better accordingly.
  • Focus and encourage what the child can do best rather what he would land up doing average!
  • Help him draw his strengths, focus on the learning skills that he can master and see what acumen would he like to expand.
  • Remember-One may not measure upto every task presented in life but come out with flying colours in the best chosen ones…….

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.
- Margaret Mead

A perfect blend of naturalist and logical intelligence

Every child is different so why not teach differently. Howard Gardner, a Harvard Psychology Professor has revolutionized the whole idea of ability and learning. He says that every person is blessed with multiple intelligences or special gifts and that these gifts are not static but dynamic. That is why parents and teachers must understand this diversity of intelligences, discovering their children’s signature learning style and help them to develop their full potential.

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