I am continuing the theme of working through Dr. Kathy Koch’s book ‘How am I Smart?’ with summarising the chapters on body smart and music smart. I am personally finding this very interesting in applying to both my children and my partner and myself. It is especially helpful in regard to schooling and also in helping our children to develop their relationship with God. With a 12 year old in the house, we are navigating a new season for us and are trying to encourage her in her pursuit of God with how best suits her, especially as lately she has been trying to assert more independence.
Competence: These children think with rhythms and melodies which they can hear not only in music but in the world around them. They appreciate and analyse music. Some find it easier to study with music on, others find it harder as they automatically start analysing it or thinking about its composition. They usually love different musical styles. Producing music is a talent they usually have. They usually have a ‘good ear’ and are able to sing in tune. Usually they are excellent at learning foreign tonal languages, easily recognising the fine differences in pitch and tone. When excited, they usually sing, move their body, hum, whistle etc. This can frustrate other people and negative responses can paralyse this intelligence within them. Harsh critiques of their practices and performances can also have a negative impact on them.
Learning & Teaching Methods: Try to use music related to the subjects they are studying eg history – music from that era of time, maths – compose tunes to learn timetables and formulas, play energising music if you want them to work quickly, geography – tunes to learn geographical facts. The addition of music is meant to improve long term memory. Be aware though that sometimes if it is in the background it can have a detrimental effect on some students as they find it distracting. Before exams, have them replace the lyrics in their favourite tunes with the facts they need to learn. Clapping or bouncing in their seat can help a child learn with this smart. Even using the large balls to balance on whilst doing schoolwork, or tapping/squeezing a soft ball. To help develop your child’s music smart, attend concerts with them, talk about a variety of musical styles, get them learning an instrument, sing in a choir, introduce them to musicians etc.
Identity: They usually enjoy praising God in song and love talking about favourite musical groups/artists. Asking them to play or sing honours them.
Struggles: They can fall into pride in their musical skills, performances and musical understanding. If participating in worship, they may believe that their upfront public worship is more important than other gifts. They can disregard people who don’t participate in music. There can be a tendency to perfectionism. Paralysis can occur if others give negative feedback. Music smart children can make noise when they shouldn’t eg during class, and this can frustrate others. They may start to idolise the musicians instead of simply enjoying the music. Chat with them about their favourite music, how it glorifies God etc.
Purpose: Music smart children can choose to glorify God through their singing and performances. Their motivation is important to God – do they want to look good or do they want God to look good? Do they whine about practice but present a different facet during worship? They glorify God by developing their talents through practice and also when they humbly take direction from leaders. They need to learn when to accept feedback and when to reject it. Help them find Bible passages they can put to music. The spiritual discipline these children usually relate to is worshiping God, both privately and publically. Encourage them to choose the music for your family devotions that relates to the theme.
Careers: There are many careers available to children with this smart – music therapists, musicians, foreign translators/missionaries, composers, music teachers, producers – music and video, disc jockeys, conductors, music arrangers, soloists, music store owners, web designers, music editors, sound engineer, etc
Belonging: Music serves as a powerful bonding agent between people, providing something to talk about and an emotional experience to share. They may find it harder to relate to peers who aren’t music smart. If they are not also logic smart, they may find that conversations about practical and logical things quickly bore them.
Connecting with God: Most music smart people will relate to God through praise and worship. Depending on whether they are self smart or people smart as well, it may influence whether they prefer individual worship or corporate worship.
Security: They may need to guard against the temptation to trust in their musical abilities and the quality of their performances. This will be evident in how they react when they make mistakes in concerts or recitals. Ask your children about the music they love and try to truly hear what they are saying without judging. Be a resource for them in developing this smart – take them to concerts, introduce them to musicians, encourage music lessons, watch musical productions, listen to a variety of music, support their practices and performances, sit and listen while they practice, provide helpful feedback etc. Encourage them to hear from God through music or song lyrics. Help them realise that when they are internally at peace then they may well be communicating it by whistling or humming or expressing themself in a musical manner.
Competence: These children think by moving and touching. Motion is very important to them. They learn and think with their entire bodies. Their hands ‘talk’, they love building, writing, touching, twisting their hair, feet tapping, etc. When they are excited, they move. They know the power of movement. They can move quickly, accurately and appropriately. Usually strong at large motor tasks eg dancing, hiking, sport, camping, playing musical instruments. They can also be great at fine motor skills and hand eye co-ordination eg sewing, carpentry, model building, writing.
Learning and teaching methods: “When children with body-smart strengths are allowed to move purposefully, they’ll have less need to move in disruptive ways.” Movement for these children is a need. They can be easily paralysed in this smart by being told to “sit still”. Build movement into lessons. Make lessons fun with activity and moving around. Explore ways using craft and activities outside in which you can incorporate learning. Have clipboards handy so that they can move easily and take their written work with them. Try a rocking chair, bean bag or large ball for sitting on. Recite formulas when doing chores (As a teenager, I used to practice my French whilst driving the tractor). Drama and role play is great for these children. Use manipulatives eg write in shaving cream, letters with sandpaper, bend pipe cleaners into letters etc. Touching and handling means more than a lecture. Challenges for these children include learning self-control and self-respect and finding ways to move that are respectful. Help them choose to learn to be satisfied with smaller movements that don’t distract others eg move their big toe instead of making a noise tapping their foot. Help your children develop in this area with kicking & throwing balls, chalk writing on the footpath, play dough, dance lessons, etc.
Identity: Most children with this body smart don’t realise that they are smart. This smart can be overlooked in ‘grades’ of schoolwork. Encourage them to look for ways to move that are creative and helpful without getting into trouble.
Struggles: They may be tempted to hurt others and can easily get themselves into trouble using this body smart. They may express their fears and frustration using their body. Maturity plays a big part here and helping them understand when enough is enough eg wrestling etc.
Purpose: They need to move, especially when they are excited. They may well need help to realise that they are smart and have a purpose. Be careful not to paralyse this smart with ‘sit down’, ‘sit still’, etc. Teach them how to sit still and not just ask them to be still. Be specific with your instructions. Help them realise they can glorify God through their movement eg dance, painting, sign language, drama, organising props and stage design/construction etc. Include activities and movement in your family devotions.
Careers: They usually gravitate towards careers involving movement or touch, hand eye co-ordination, fine or large motor skill, eg hairdresser, chiropractor, dentist, sports star, mechanic, physical education teacher, orchestra conductor, plumber, builder, truck driver, stunt performer, surgeon, actor, artist, sports coach, camp director, welder, physiotherapist etc.
Belonging: They can easily meet this need through being part of a sports team, drama or art group. They can bond through misbehaviour in a class with other body smart children who move a lot. Teachers can help them by their reaction – are they considered an irritation or is the constant motion channelled well?
Connecting with God: They may connect best with God when they are moving during worship eg clapping, dancing, swaying etc. Ordinances like communion, baptism, offering can mean a lot as these children learn best by doing and experiencing things for themselves.
Security: Body smart children may be tempted to trust their talent or their ability. This may present as an unhealthy need to win at all costs.This may be how they feel validated. Resist asking “did you win?” after a game. Instead ask,”how did you go? Did you enjoy it?”. Help them to view their energy and need for action as a positive quality. Spend time on helping them with ball skills, providing materials for activities, taking them to sport, working on the car together, cleaning the house together. Belonging and trust go hand in hand when you spend the time doing an activity together. When disciplining them, encourage them to act out the appropriate response when they have previously responded negatively. These children learn through touch so be very careful of your touch and appropriateness. Find ways to touch them appropriately to communciate love. Help them to trust their ‘gut’ instincts and physical responses to situations.
Enjoy getting to know you own and your family’s ways of being ‘smart’ this week.