What is the Theory of Multiple Intelligences_

Unless you’re a teacher, you’ve likely never heard of Howard Gardner and The Theory of Multiples Intelligences. But, this theory is one of the most important theories about intelligence and it has influenced the way educators, psychologists and sociologists view intelligence–especially the intelligence of kids. Read on to find out what exactly the theory is and how it can give you new insight about your child’s strengths and weaknesses!

Howard Gardner developed his Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 when he was a professor of education at Harvard. His theory proposed a new way to view intelligence. Prior to Gardner’s theory, most people believed that intelligence was inherited and that humans could be trained to do anything, as long as the information was presented in an appropriate way. But, Gardner wasn’t so sure that intelligence was that cut and dry. Gardner proposed the idea that all humans have intelligence in multiple areas and these intelligences are somewhat predetermined at birth. In other words,  people have a unique blend of capabilities and skills and it can be exceptionally hard to teach certain people certain things, depending on their intelligences.

So what are these areas of intelligence? Read on for a brief introduction to the 9 Intelligences according to Gardner.

1. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence

People with strong verbal-linguistic intelligence are good with words–both spoken and written. They remember spoken and written information well, they enjoy reading and writing and they are often good at persuasion and explaining things (they can use language to accomplish their goals).

2. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

People with strong logical-mathematical skills are analytical and good at reasoning. They easily carry out mathematical operations, they recognize patterns and relationships between numbers, they enjoy thinking about abstract ideas, and they like conducting scientific experiments.

3. Spatial-Visual Intelligence

People with strong spatial-visual intelligence are good at visualizing things. They are good at things like puzzles, interpreting graphs, graphics, and charts, and they recognize patterns easily.

4. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Individuals with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence have excellent motor and physical control. They usually have excellent hand-eye coordination and are exceptionally dexterous.

5. Musical Intelligence

People with musical intelligence are skilled in performance, composition and appreciation of music and musical patterns. They enjoy singing and playing instruments, and they easily recognize musical tones, pitches, melodies and rhythms.

6. Interpersonal Intelligence

People with strong interpersonal intelligence understand other people and easily relate to and interact with them. They are good at understanding the emotions, motivations, desires and intentions of those around them. 

7. Intrapersonal Intelligence

Not to be confused with interpersonal skills, people with strong intrapersonal skills know themselves well. They are introspective, they enjoy self-reflection and they understand their own feelings, fears and motivations.


The last 2 intelligences were not part of the original theory. Gardner has added them in recent years to encompass more areas of intelligence.

8. Naturalistic Intelligence 

Individuals with naturalistic intelligence are in tune with nature, including plants and animals. They are often interested in exploring the environment and they are highly aware when something in that environment changes. 

9. Existential Intelligence

Individuals with existential intelligence have the capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life.

For the next few days, pay closer attention while your child plays and interacts with you and his or her siblings and peers. Think about Gardner’s list. Which areas of intelligence do you see in your children? What are they naturally good at? What do they struggle with? This will give you good insight into the areas your children have intelligence and what areas they may need to work harder to strengthen.

For more parenting articles, make sure you follow NURTURE and stay tuned for an upcoming post on How to Develop Multiple Intelligences in your Children!




Photo Credits: Ashley Sisk, Our Three Peas, The Art of Making a Baby


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