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Multiple Intelligences
Learn about multiple intelligences and your child's development.

Linguistic Intelligence

"My sister, Di, was the person who suffered my first efforts at storytelling (I was much bigger than her and could hold her down)."
- J. K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and three sequels.

Who doesn't love a good story? Or a joke, or a riddle, or a beautiful poem? If your child loves telling them as well as hearing them, he likely has a high degree of Linguistic Intelligence. In his book 7 Kinds of Smart: Identifying and Developing Your Multiple Intelligences, author Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D., says that this is "perhaps the most universal" of the intelligences in Multiple Intelligence theory.

According to Dee Dickinson, author of Teaching and Learning Through Multiple Intelligences (Allyn and Bacon, 1996), children who have a high degree of Linguistic Intelligence are interested in storytelling, rhymes, plays on words, and "things that go beyond normal conversation." The components of this form of intelligence, according to Armstrong, include sensitivity to the sounds, structure and meanings of words, as well as a talent for using language to entertain, persuade, or instruct an audience/reader.

There are many ways to help your child develop his Linguistic Intelligence. Dickinson, founder of New Horizons for Learning, a nonprofit international education network, says that jokes, riddles, crossword puzzles and word games are among them, as is reading. "One of the most important things, from birth or even from before birth, is to read aloud with children," Dickinson says. Also important are singing, poetry, and what Dickinson calls meaningful conversation. "Not just talking at children, but talking with them," she explains.

Because Linguistic Intelligence is so highly valued in our society, and such a large focus in our schools, parents who want to work with children at home to develop it must be careful not to push too hard. "All of the things that parents do at home should be things that keep communication alive, and create strong, warm connections between parents and children," says Dickinson. So have fun with things like telling stories together, or writing down stories your child tells you. To spur your child's creativity, Dickinson suggests that you can start the story, then stop in the middle of telling it and ask your child what she thinks is going to happen next.

Older kids can write down their own stories, or keep a journal. To get your child started, don't be too open ended. Focus on a question, such as "What was the best thing that happened to you today?" or "What was something that happened today that you wish could have been different?" suggests Dickinson.

Again, be careful not to make your activities seem too much like classroom work. "When kids are doing creative writing, forget about correcting their spelling and punctuation. Let that happen in school," urges Dickinson. Only correct technical things if your child asks for help. Instead, focus on the good stuff, the ideas. Play with words together, and have fun.

Kinds of Multiple Intelligences

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