Multiple Intelligences Nurtured Daily

In the following article, kindergarten teacher, Kari Strandstra, illuminates how multiple intelligences are respected and represented in our NUA Sparrow program.

“What area would you like to work in today? “ is a question I frequently ask.

At NUA Sparrow, each classroom participates in a time of day called either Open Choice (in kindergarten) or Independent Learning Time. This is a time when the student selects an activity from areas around the room based on where they experience the most satisfaction. As a teacher at NUA Sparrow, it is interesting to note that on most days, the area of chosen interest can be predicted for each child. I have students who always start the day in art or blocks or library.  I also notice that some students go off on their own while some look to see what others are doing before they choose.

This is just one way it is evident that we all possess different dominant intelligences.  As a teacher, I encourage children to explore many avenues of interest and ways to become well-balanced individuals, but it is interesting to note where our strongest intelligences lie.

In 1983, Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences. This theory notes that we have eight different intelligences within us (more recently, nine).  These intelligences are:

  • Linguistic
  • Logical/mathematical
  • Naturalist
  • Spatial
  • Body-kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • (Now, also existential)

We all have these intelligences at varying levels, but a few are dominant within us.

Here is an outline of each intelligence:

Linguistic/Verbal – Ability to use words and language. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and are generally elegant speakers. They think in words rather than pictures.

Their skills include: listening, speaking, writing, story-telling, explaining, teaching, using humor, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, convincing someone of their point of view, analyzing language usage.

Logical/ MathematicalAbility to use reason, logic and numbers. These learners think conceptually in logical and numerical patterns making connections between pieces of information. Always curious about the world around them, these learners ask lots of questions and like to do experiments.

Their skills include: problem solving, classifying and categorizing information, working with abstract concepts to figure out the relationship of each to the other, handling long chains of reason to make local progressions, doing controlled experiments, questioning and wondering about natural events, performing complex mathematical calculations, working with geometric shapes

NaturalistAbility to recognize, categorize and draw upon certain features of the environment. It combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of the role that many cultures value.

Their skills include: being very comfortable outdoors, awareness of their natural surroundings, feel a connection to nature, good at sorting and classifying, have keen observational skills, enjoy exploring and experimenting with objects in nature, recognize patterns and colors, have a respect for Mother Nature.


Spatial/Visual – Ability to perceive the visual. These learners tend to think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. They enjoy looking at maps, charts, pictures, videos, and movies.

Their skills include: puzzle building, reading, writing, understanding charts and graphs, a good sense of direction, sketching, painting, creating visual metaphors and analogies (perhaps through the visual arts), manipulating images, constructing, fixing, designing practical objects, interpreting visual images.

Body-Kinesthetic – Ability to control body movements and handle objects skillfully. These learners express themselves through movement. They have a good sense of balance and eye-hand co-ordination (e.g. ball play, balancing beams). Through interacting with the space around them, they are able to remember and process information.

Their skills include: dancing, physical co-ordination, sports, hands on experimentation, using body language, crafts, acting, miming, using their hands to create or build, expressing emotions through the body.

Musical – Ability to produce and appreciate music. These musically-inclined learners think in sounds, rhythms and patterns. They immediately respond to music either appreciating or criticizing what they hear. Many of these learners are extremely sensitive to environmental sounds (e.g. crickets, bells, dripping taps).

Their skills include: singing, whistling, playing musical instruments, recognizing tonal patterns, composing music, remembering melodies, understanding the structure and rhythm of music

Interpersonal – Ability to relate and understand others. These learners try to see things from other people’s point of view in order to understand how they think and feel. They often have an uncanny ability to sense feelings, intentions and motivations. They are great organizers, although they sometimes resort to manipulation. Generally they try to maintain peace in group settings and encourage co-operation.  They use both verbal (e.g. speaking) and non-verbal language (e.g. eye contact, body language)  to open communication channels with others.

Their skills include: seeing things from other perspectives (dual-perspective), listening, using empathy, understanding other people’s moods and feelings, counseling, co-operating with groups, noticing people’s moods, motivations and intentions, communicating both verbally and non-verbally, building trust, peaceful conflict resolution, establishing positive relations with other people.

Intrapersonal – Ability to self-reflect and be aware of one’s inner state of being. These learners try to understand their inner feelings, dreams, relationships with others, and strengths and weaknesses.

Their skills include: recognizing their own strengths and weaknesses, reflecting on and analyzing themselves, awareness of their inner feelings, desires and dreams, evaluating their thinking patterns, reasoning with themselves, understanding their role in relationship to others

In more recent years, a ninth intelligence called existential intelligence was added.

Existential Ability to use collective values and intuition to understand others and the world around them. Individuals who excel in this intelligence typically are able to see the big picture.

Their skills include: seeing the big picture, evaluating life, strong interest in society, knows what is right and wrong, valuing truth, goodness and beauty, connecting to a community, using intuition.

At NUA Sparrow, we feel it’s important to nurture these intelligences daily. It is essential that all of these intelligences are experienced in a classroom environment so that students have the opportunity to excel in their dominant intelligence styles and learn to grow in others.

Unlike other schools that focus mostly on verbal/linguistic and logical/mathematical intelligences, we focus on a variety of learning experiences. Every day at NUA Sparrow, children are singing, moving, collaborating, exploring, meditating, developing self-awareness, expressing themselves through art, learning rhymes and stories, making predictions, creating plays,  building, doing handwork, connecting with nature and participating in a loving community.

We know that learning is not successful in a one-size-fits-all manner, and we are sensitive to the diverse needs of each student.  We respect and honor this diversity and guide each child to find learning success in his or her own individual way.

Below are a few articles on multiple intelligences and quizzes to help determine the main intelligences in your child and in yourself!

Ms. Kari


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