Every Wednesday, I’ll post about multiple intelligences so we can better understand children and why they do what they do.

Fitness3-r50Each of our smarts, or intelligences, is born into us, but must be awakened by meaningful encounters with people and/or things. My body smart, or bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, was awakened when my parents enrolled me in ballet and tap dance lessons when I was about six-years-old.

Prior to dance class, I was certainly moving, but I was clumsy and unsure of myself. Dancing increased my confidence and coordination. I went from taking lessons to becoming an assistant teacher. When I got older, I especially enjoyed softball and racquetball. I also spent years on drill teams and in marching bands. These are all good uses of being body smart and were made possible by the decision my parents made when I was six.

The strengths of our intelligences – measured by interest and ability – vary throughout time. There have been periods in my adult life when I haven’t had the time or energy to engage in much body-smart activity. It may have appeared to others that I wasn’t body smart. That would not have been true. This is one of the reasons I caution parents and teachers to use many observations before deciding which intelligences are strengths and weaknesses for children. And, then to repeat these observations over time so changes are noticed.

When being body smart we think with movement and touch. This is why I may get great insights when working out in the fitness center with my trainer. You may think of new ideas while emptying the dish washer, folding laundry, driving to work, or walking up the stairs.

Children who have body-smart strengths may study best in rocking chairs, bean bag chairs, and by pacing in the hall with a clipboard. Because more muscles are involved, writing their spelling words in the air (to paint the sky) rather than just on a piece of paper will enhance their memory.

Fitness1-r50Body-smart children like to keep their hands busy. Therefore, they may learn well through demonstrations, charades, hands-on manipulatives, field trips, and by clapping answers to math facts and the number of syllables in a new word. They may participate in marching band, athletics, drama, and enjoy certain types of art.

Developing and using flexibility, dexterity, and coordination to help others are positive and healthy uses of being body smart. These children can also do physical chores and acts of service and comfort others with hugs and encourage them with “high fives.” They can become mechanics, coaches, orchestra conductors, physical therapists, and camp directors.

When children who are body smart get excited, they move more. Therefore, they frequently get into trouble by moving when they shouldn’t or by moving too much. They may struggle to sit still when they need to. They may punch, wrestle, and shove their way to the front of a line just because they can. They may also distract others with their movements and possibly become “class clowns.”

Just as with the other intelligences, children with this strength definitely need self-respect, self-control, and respect for others so they will use their body-smart abilities only for good and not to do harm.

Getting them to stop a movement that’s irritating you or their peer group, such as clicking a pen or drumming their fingers on their desk, is not the key. They’ll only start moving in a different way because when they’re processing information and excited, they move. A key to parenting and teaching them well is to teach them to substitute a less offensive behavior with one that’s too loud or aggressive.

Being body smart can enhance life out of school, but cause struggles for kids in school because of the need to sit still and keep their hands to themselves. We don’t want to paralyze it out of kids so we must be careful in our reactions.

Are there any changes you could make as a result of reading today’s blog?

Who would benefit from some of the information? I hope you’ll share it with them.

[If you want to know similar details for the first four smarts in this series of blogs, please see them here: word smart, logic smart, picture smart, and music smart.]