Because You Have Chosen to Homeschool…
by Kathy Koch
When I taught second graders in the public school in Wisconsin, I was saddened by the number of my students who already thought of themselves as incapable or stupid. I was not only sad for them, I was also concerned for my role as their teacher. Would I be able to teach them if they doubted themselves?
I didn’t learn about Howard Gardner’s discovery that we have the capacity to develop eight different smarts until after I earned my PhD and began teaching at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. I loved inspiring my students, who were training to become teachers, to teach their future students according to how they were smart.
Maybe you have little ones you’re planning to homeschool in a few years. Maybe you’ve been educating your kids at home for years and wonder if you’ve blown it. Or maybe you have school-aged kids or teens you’ve recently pulled from a conventional public or private school, hoping against hope you don’t screw ’em up!
Because you’ve answered the call to homeschool, you’ll get to know your children. You’ll be with them—a lot! It may feel constant. It will be constant some days or even weeks. This is beautiful. This is family! Your relationship will be strengthened, and you’ll be empowered to make the difference that you hope to make in their todays and tomorrows.
First, understand that you can’t wreck your kids by homeschooling—nor by learning about the smarts. Second, realize that learning about multiple intelligences (i.e., “the smarts”) will not give you the perfect homeschool; there is no such thing as a perfect home, perfect kids, or perfect parents, so you can drop that notion right now. But knowledge of the smarts and how to apply them to your home learning program is good gear for your parenting toolbox “gadgets,” so to speak, that will increase your confidence as a homeschooler and bless your kids, now and for the long-haul.
As you consider wielding these smarts tools, let me recommend actually reading 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences (Moody Publishers) if you haven’t already. My goal is to get you thinking about applications of the theory to homeschooling.
But if you’re dying to jump right in to implementing relevant ideas in your home, let me provide you with a working smarts vocabulary to get you going, taken directly from 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences. Please understand that this list is not a hierarchy; in fact, though word and logic smart are prioritized within institutional school settings, every smart is equally important and valuable. Indeed, the customized nature of homeschooling provides us with the freedom and opportunity to help our kids explore and develop all eight to their highest potential.
- Word Smart people think with words. When excited, they talk and might write. Children who are particularly smart in this area can argue, persuade, entertain, and/or instruct effectively through the spoken word. They tend to be masters of literacy: they read a lot, write clearly, listen intently, and/or speak well.
- Logic Smart people think with questions. When excited, they ask more questions. Logically inclined children have the ability to reason, sequence, categorize, and think in terms of cause-effect and comparison-contrast relationships.
- Picture Smart people think with their eyes and with pictures. When excited, they add to their pictures (in their minds and on paper). Children who are picture smart are very sensitive to visual details. They have the ability to observe, transform, and re-create different aspects of the visual-spatial world.
- Music Smart people think with rhythms and melodies. When excited, they make music. Musically gifted children are able to hear, appreciate, and/or produce rhythms and melodies. They often have a good ear, can sing in tune, keep time to music, and listen to different musical selections with some degree of discernment.
- Body Smart people think with movement and touch. When excited, they move more. Evidence of body intelligence is seen via strong large motor and/or small motor skills and interests. These children are talented in controlling their body movements and/or in handling objects skillfully. They may enjoy physical pursuits like walking, sports, dancing, acting, or camping and/or they may be skilled at activities like sewing, carpentry, or model-building.
- Nature Smart people think with patterns. When excited, they go outside. Children who would rather be outdoors than indoors may be strong in this smart. They tend to love animals and are knowledgeable about them. They also are skilled at recognizing and classifying plants, minerals, and animals. The ability to categorize cultural artifacts like cars or sneakers may also depend on this smart.
- People Smart people think with other people. When excited, they talk to people. Children with this intelligence are able to discern and then respond to the moods, intentions, and desires of others. Therefore, they tend to be leaders. They have the ability (for good or bad) to get inside another person and view the world from that individual’s perspective.
- Self Smart people think with deep reflection. When excited, they spend time alone thinking. Children strong in this smart can use their self-understanding to enrich and guide their lives. They tend to enjoy quiet times of deep soul-searching. They also need peace, space, privacy, and quiet. They are fiercely independent, highly goal-directed, and intensely self-disciplined.
As a homeschooling parent, your major takeaways will be about teaching and learning. Through explanations and examples, you’ll learn what topics each child will be most interested in, what teaching and curricula styles may work best, and what learning methods to employ. You will be encouraged as you learn the foundation and supporting beams that allow you to design an educational program that works.
When I teach at homeschool conventions, I regularly say, “You teach children; you don’t teach math, reading, or Bible. Teaching them how to learn and to love learning will make them the leaders you want them to be.” Understanding the eight great smarts will help you accomplish these goals. I pray you successfully implement these ideas and enjoy the journey.
Adapted from 8 Great Smarts for Homeschoolers: A Guide to Teaching Based on Your Child’s Unique Strengths by Tina Hollenbeck and Kathy Koch. ©2021. Published by Moody Publishers. Used with permission.
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