Understanding Multiple Intelligences and Learning Styles
Educators and researchers are always looking for innovative ways to improve student performance. As a result, the education field is crowded with different theories about learning, teaching, studying, and so on. Two of the most popular ones are the Multiple Intelligences Theory and Learning Styles Theory.
No single theory or philosophy can fit every situation and meet every need. To make sure you help your online school student learn and study effectively, review the details about these theories below.
The Multiple Intelligences Theory
Psychologist Howard Gardner developed this theory in 1983. He claimed that people have eight independent ways of processing information, which are:
- verbal–linguistic (word smart)
- logical–mathematical (logic smart)
- visual–spatial (picture smart)
- auditory–musical (music smart)
- bodily–kinesthetic (body smart)
- interpersonal (people smart)
- intrapersonal (self smart)
- naturalistic (nature smart)
It’s more accurate to think of the eight intelligences as abilities or strengths. The human brain is extremely complex, and all of these types of “smarts” work together. Your student may have several of these strengths.
How to use the Multiple Intelligences Theory
To apply the Multiple Intelligences Theory to online school, use it to help your student develop all of his or her strengths. Remember that there are activities that help develop more than one ability at a time. For example, you can help your child do some creative learning activities, such as:
- taking photos for the online school yearbook to exercise visual–spatial skills
- trying our leaf color chemistry activity to build nature smarts
- drawing a map to scale and exercising logic and visual–spatial smarts
- spending 10 minutes writing about one of his or her best attributes to integrate word smarts and intrapersonal smarts
The Learning Styles Theory
Like the Multiple Intelligences Theory, the Learning Styles Theory focuses on the ways we perceive information. The learning styles focus on how we process information using our senses.
The theory’s three ways to learn information, or learning styles, are auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and tactile/kinesthetic (touching and moving). Learners most often prefer one learning style over the others. As a result, there are:
- visual learners, who learn best by using images, graphs, maps, and drawings
- auditory learners, who prefer to learn by hearing and speaking information
- tactile/kinesthetic learners, who learn best by experiencing, touching, and performing tasks
With this theory in mind, it makes sense that children who have a specific learning style can learn more effectively if they use their preferred style more often. But don’t force it—using a particular learning style is only effective if it also fits the subject matter.
For example, you can have your child practice counting money by giving him or her real coins, which is a tactile/kinesthetic approach. To practice one-to-one correspondence with an emergent reader, point to each word as you read it, which uses both auditory and visual skills. To learn geography, study a map, which is a visual task. For vocabulary growth at any age, read aloud regularly—which is an auditory and verbal–linguistic experience as well as great fun.
Physical Activities for Kinesthetic Learners
While physical activity is particularly important for kids who have a kinesthetic learning style preference, taking breaks and staying active is important for all learners! Even if your child doesn’t gravitate toward hands-on or physical activities, you can still incorporate them into his or her routine to clear the mind and relieve stress. Try the learning activities below to stimulate the body as well as the brain:
- Have your child play multiplication catch or leap for measurement to practice skills through activity.
- Have your child use a stability ball instead of a chair for short periods of time to improve balance, posture, and upper-body strength.
- Start a family fitness challenge. Get the whole family involved in the new fitness plan, whether it’s by holding indoor scavenger hunts or creating your own unique activities.
- Do indoor physical education activities between lessons. Fun physical activities for grades K–12 can keep your child busy all year long, no matter what the weather is.
Whether labeled as learning styles or intelligences, none of these strengths are static or fixed. Students grow and improve in all types of learning as they mature. These approaches can be useful tools in a Learning Coach’s toolkit to add variety and support student learning at home.
Interested in getting more involved in your children’s education? Visit the Connections Academy website to learn more about tuition-free online school, or the International Connections Academy website to discover the advantages of online private school.