How am I smart – nature, people and self smart?

This blogpost summarises the final three ‘smarts’ taken from the book by Dr Kathy Koch on “How am I smart? A parent’s guide to multiple intelligences”

Nature Smart

Competence: These people think with patterns. They pay attention to similarities and differences. They use their eyes. This intelligence is closely linked with picture-smartness, however they don’t think in the same way. Because they think with patterns, they notice shapes, sizes, colours, designs and textures in their environment. They easily think with comparisons and contrasts and categorise easily. They know there’s power in observing patterns. They may notice patterns with more than their eyes. They may use their sense of touch to notice textures of leaves, curves in rocks, differences in temperature etc. This thinking by touch relates to being body smart. They usually love animals, nature, gardening, collecting bugs and have an interest in weather patterns. They tune in to their surroundings and observe, analyse and remember patterns.

Learning & teaching methods: Look at nature smart sciences – astronomy, biology, botany, ecology, earth science, entomology, geology, herpetology, horticulture, ichthyology, meteorology, oceanography, ornithology, palaeontology, volcanology and zoology. Encourage them to look for patterns eg when learning cursive writing, remembering formulas. They usually enjoy collecting and categorizing things by shape, colour, design etc. Help them to relate what they’re studying to nature. It can enhance their motivation, increase their attention and help them remember the information. Studying outside can really help them but it may also be distracting for them. Use games and activities which help them see patterns.  Train their eyes to see these patterns.

Identity: Usually relate themselves to animals and outdoor activities. When they’re excited, they want to go outside. Being surrounded by nature helps to increase their joy. They often care about the environment. They may become irritable and negative when indoors, especially if there are no windows. This may paralyse their smart, along with never being allowed to get dirty, not having collections honoured and not creating opportunities to interact with animals.

Struggles: Can be tempted to worship the created instead of the Creator. They might confuse the awe of nature for God. Sometimes they may skip school to be outdoors.

Purpose: May prefer reading the Bible and praying outdoors and being in groups that meet outside or where there is natural lighting and an outdoor view.

Careers: various science disciplines, animal shelters, florist, camp, recycling or environmental areas, tree surgeon, gardener, park ranger, vet, nature photographer, pet sitter etc

Belonging: Being friends with a nature smart person usually involves being outdoors with them and visiting places outdoors or watching nature DVD’s etc.

Connecting with God: They enjoy worshipping God outdoors and find Him in the birds singing, cloud formations, walking in the woods etc.

Security: They may attempt to put their security in things such as their ability to understand nature and explain it to others. They notice when you listen to them and see what intrigues them and help answer their questions and explore things. Try chatting with your child outdoors and notice the difference to the conversation, even a café next to the window etc. Remember they have a strength in their comparison-contrast thinking and use that to help them compare their behaviour and attitudes to when they were obedient. Teach them that God is the Creator of the Universe and that they can trust Him. Be available especially during and after natural disasters when they may have a lot of questions due to their curiosity and concern for nature.

People Smart

Competence: These children are interested in people. They tend to make friends easily, partly because they understand people. They people watch. They may regularly talk whilst studying or want to study with a partner. Often this is the child who is told to stop talking. It involves more than being a good friend and comfortable around people or needing people. It involves the definite strength of reading body language. They know if someone is mad, glad or sad. They may be able to discern someone’s mood, intention and desire as well as respond appropriately. They think by bouncing ideas off others. They think well with others. Sometimes they don’t know if their idea is good until they hear themselves say it and watch someone respond to it.

Learning & teaching methods: They talk when they are excited. Often their talking is a spontaneous response to their joy of discovery. Their interactions express high energy – connection is a source of their power. They need to learn self control, self discipline and respect for others otherwise paralysis may affect their ‘smart’ when told to be quiet in the classroom. They love working with partners and group work. Even if they have a couple of minutes at the beginning of solo work just to brainstorm with another person, it will help them enormously. Role plays, drama, and demonstrations are loved by these children. They learn well from mentors, someone they can look up to and discuss attitudes, character qualities and ideas with. Encourage workplace shadowing to help them determine interest in a career. When writing, they usually love writing about people. Reading biographies is a way to encourage reading. Teach all kids how to read body language cues to help develop this ‘smart’.

Identity: They tend to have many friends. Talking about their day will revolve around what these people did than what they learnt in class. They feel most alive when they are with people. They are great at motivating others and successfully rallying their peers. They usually are great at selling as they can read body language and determine who will be attracted to what.

Struggles: The greatest challenge is to be without input from others for any lengthy period. They’ll struggle if they are alone too much, thus they may try online chat rooms, want to call friends, talk more with you as parent etc. Being ignored is hard for them. They are great motivators and also great manipulators. Both require the same skill set. Specific area of pride may be their people skills and the number of friends they have, and their ability to manipulate younger siblings.

Purpose: They can be great at helping others. Encourage them to be in charge of welcoming new peers at church and school and befriending the lonely. They can usually discern who would be good friends with whom and then connect them together. They can analyse and improve a group’s teamwork and unity. They are great at brainstorming and help others analyse the accuracy of their ideas.

Careers: Any involving people. Public speaking, administrators, pastors, positions of leadership, counsellors, politicians, lawyers, travel agents, social workers, receptionists, advertisers, personnel directors, talk show hosts, doctors, nurses, salespeople, police officers, waiters, inventors (as long as opportunities to brainstorm with others) etc.

Belonging: They will have many friends. They may also be introverted and after being around people, want quiet, privacy and space alone to recharge. They usually choose friends wisely. Being a gang leader and the ability to cheat may come more easily to a people smart child who uses their ‘smart’ and exploits others weaknesses unwisely.

Connecting with God: They may prefer praying to Jesus than God because Jesus seems more identifiable to them and less nebulous. They may also like learning about God’s character qualities as He relates to people. They may struggle to worship God on their own. They will love studying the Bible in groups. Family devotions may be preferable as long as they can give input during it. Make yourself available to listen to them when they want you to. They may be drawn to service because they can often discern people’s needs. Evangelism might come naturally to them as they can discern stuff about people. They will get more from church and Sunday School if they know they can share their insights with you after the service eg in the car on the drive home.

Security: Being able to read people well can feel very powerful. They may put their trust in this instead of in God. On days when they are alone or when they make mistakes with people, they may feel empty and insecure. Model excellent cause-effect thinking and common sense reasoning. Ask questions and get them providing the answer and conclusion than you merely telling them. Ask them what they think and what their friends might think. They hate it when you are hypocritical. Your body language is more important than your words to these kids.

Self Smart

Competence: They think deeply inside of themselves. They may appear to be a slow thinker but their desire to know what they know takes time. They usually like thinking about their idea before sharing it. Don’t belittle their slowness or force them to think quickly or you may paralyse this ‘smart’. They come to know themselves very well – their strengths, weaknesses, what calms them down, what angers them, what they don’t care about, what they need etc. They enjoy reflecting on their past, analysing the present and predicting their future. Thus, they tend to be effective goal setters. They are usually able to stand up for their beliefs well because they know what they believe and why. They tend to be quiet, independent workers and thinkers. When they’re excited, they enjoy spending time alone so as to enjoy their feelings and thoughts.

Learning & teaching methods: They may struggle in school when teachers ask for their opinions and answers, or in group work. They prefer to study alone. They may see it as interference when you try to interact with them. They usually don’t like the evaluation of their ideas. They need time to process their ideas. Try to connect topics to their personal life because they think by relating learning to themselves. Help them see how relevant their homework is to their present and future. They like choices and opinions.

Identity: They usually love talking about themselves unless they consider you are not really interested, then they will be quiet. They may find it hard to separate what they believe and their ideas from who they are and how they are. Much of their identity is wrapped up in what they know. When what they know is evaluated, they feel evaluated as a person. They hate their time being wasted.

Struggles: They can easily become self-centred since they are usually independent and content with being alone. Pride in themself and their ideas can be easy for them. They may find it hard to be open to other people’s ideas. They may appear unteachable. They value self discipline but have high standards for themselves. Thus, when they make mistakes, they can be hard on themselves and easily turn to fear and a feeling of hopelessness.

Purpose: They are great at being who they were created to be. They usually know their natural abilities, spiritual gifts, personality. Help them see that these are to be used to serve others.

Careers: They need some time alone but depending on their other smarts, may find sales or research interesting. Self employment, entrepreneur, private investigator, poet, author, pastor, counsellor, social worker, therapist, personal trainer etc.

Belonging: They may appear shy and quiet, especially in crowds or a new group of peers. It may appear they don’t need to be wanted. They are easily paralysed when told “Get your head out of that book”, “you’re being selfish”, “don’t you have anyone to play with” etc  They think of themselves and their own ideas before they think of others. They like being alone. They can easily feel guilty when pushed to always consider others first. They prefer smaller groups of friends. They may prefer individual sports and activities instead of team sports. They usually don’t make foolish mistakes. They can help others discern their strengths and challenges. They can help others set goals and plan. They are usually great at resisting peer pressure because they have thought about issues. They may be intense in relationships. They can easily disengage when the discussion is something they can’t relate to.

Connecting with God: Their relationship with God is usually deep and private. Look for patterns as to how they relate to people and how they relate to God. They may struggle if spiritual disciplines are practiced corporately eg love praying in private but hate praying in public. They may love worshipping God and enter into His presence easily. They may find quiet times to study the Bible easy, and may enjoy journaling their thoughts and reactions. Meditation and reflection usually comes easily. They easily confess their sin and repent because they are easily aware of it. They usually love hearing personal testimonies. Invite missionaries into your home to share around a meal.

Security: They can place their trust in things and their knowledge. They may also be too independent. Watch and listen to this child. Be available to listen when they want to talk. On important topics, give them time and space to reflect, think and feel before, during and after discussions. Ask for their thoughts and recommendations.

More information on the ‘smarts’ can be found at Remember that most people are more than one ‘smart’ but usually have a dominant ‘smart’. I encourage you to discover your own and each member of your family’s ‘smarts’ so that you can relate and function to the best of your ability. Enjoy the discovery!!