While I was pregnant with my first child, I read all the usual blockbuster books – What to Expect, Baby Whisperer, Contented Baby, etc. I don’t even remember how I picked it up from the library, but it was What’s Going on in There? : How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life that piqued my interest in the developing brains of babies and children. So when I received the invitation from Wyeth Nutrition to attend Dr. Thomas Armstrong’s talk at the SmartKids Asia Expo on the topic of “8 kinds of Smart: Discovering and Developing your child’s multiple intelligences”, I knew I had to attend!
Although the seminar was short, and in my opinion really touched on what is but the tip if the iceberg, it was enlightening as well as a reaffirmation of some of the beliefs that I have about raising children. Dr. Armstrong believes that every child is born a genius, and touched on the different qualities of geniuses, and the different types of multiple intelligences that children possess. I would encourage you to read those two short but riveting links, but I will share a little on the multiple intelligences.
Often we have strengths in certain areas of intelligence, but the list makes a good starting point for parents (and everyone!) to realise how different any child or person can be. Below is the list of intelligences, as well as some descriptors related to toddlers.
So, perhaps in our busy lives we have forgotten to make it a point to make sure our children have enough exposure to nature, so this list could help you make more of a concerted effort to spend more time outdoors to be more nature smart. Or, if you know your child is shy, perhaps you can encourage more peer interaction, developing their empathy for others, to encourage the people smart. You get the drift 🙂
The theory of multiple intelligences (taken from Dr. Armstrong’s website):
- “proposes a major transformation in the way our schools are run.”
- “gives adults a whole new way to look at their lives, examining potentials that they left behind in their childhood (such as a love for art or drama) but now have the opportunity to develop through courses, hobbies, or other programs of self-development”
Wow. Quite a heavy topic, isn’t it? The talk helped to encourage thinking of every child as unique and every child as a genius, rather than trying to fit the child into society or into an educational system, which favour word smart and logic smart over all the other intelligences.
During the Q&A session that several bloggers and I had with Dr. Armstrong, we talked about the downsides to special needs labels, as well as the flaws of educational systems in addressing the needs of a variety of children.
Dr. Armstrong gave two very interesting examples to illustrate his points. The first was that of Temple Grandin, an autistic lady who had trouble dealing with human relationships but revolutionized the cattle industry with her talents. My husband and I watched the semi-biographical HBO movie of her, and it is an inspiring movie which I would highly recommend. The second is that of a calla lilly. A calla lilly is a flower, yet has no petals. So should be calla lilly be labelled petal-deficient?
Some of the main takeaways for parents was his advice on how to “awaken” the genius in children:
- Re-awaken the genius in ourselves (parents) – having children is like going through childhood all over again,
- Encourage all the intelligences
- Be sparing with technology – it dumbs the mind and early exposure to violence is not healthy
- Provide simple experential learning activites – choose good quality toys or objects that encourage stimulation, rather than noisy flashy ones.
- Encourage open ended exploration
- Believe in every child as a genius
- Supply proper nutitrion – scientists have established that certain nutrients have a structural impact on the brain, which in turn supports specific functions. For example, DHA impacts the cortex, which supports visual and cognitive development, choline has impact on the hippocampus and white matter, supporting brain and memory development, etc.
- Children learn in multiple ways – seeing, thinking and doing. Good nutrition helps support overall growth and development in these 3 key areas. Scientists have also established that certain nutrients have a structural impact on the brain, which in turn supports specific functions. For example, DHA impacts the cortex, which supports visual and cognitive development, choline has impact on the hippocampus and white matter, supporting brain and memory development, etc.
Coincidentally sometime after the talk, based on a recommendation I saw online, we borrowed the book On a beam of light: A story of Albert Einsten, and the boys and I have been enjoying reading about his life. He did not say a word until he was three, and we read about how he has changed everything we know about the world today.
Do you believe every child is a genius in his own right?
Disclaimer: We were invited by Wyeth Nutrition to participate in the talk given by Dr. Armstrong. All opinions are 100% my own.