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

dancing boyIt’s not hard for me to come up with a list of reasons being body smart is good. Does that surprise you? Many parents and teachers know this smart can be irritating. It’s definitely true that children, teens, and even adults with this intelligence strength benefit from the character qualities of self-control and respect for others. Of course, the same is true for children with other smart strengths.

Dr. Gardner, the developer of the multiple intelligence model, refers to this smart as bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. When we think with this smart, we move and touch. When we’re excited, we move and touch more. Without maturity, this moving and touching can get us into trouble and frustrate and distract others.

We don’t want to paralyze this ability out of children. Just as my word-smart strengths could have been silenced if I had heard “Be quiet! I said be quiet!” while I was growing up, these children can have their strengths diminished by hearing “Stop moving! Keep your hands to yourself!” over and over again. Do they need to be obedient and learn to sit quietly during group times? Absolutely. But, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.

If you doubt its importance, think about whether you have this smart as a strength. Do you think well when moving and being physically active? Do you remember things you need to do while emptying the dishwasher or playing catch with your child? Do you have important insights while running or driving and they have nothing to do with what you’re doing? They just pop into your head? Then, you know it’s not fair or right to not give these children opportunities to move well. That’s when they may have important thoughts.

What’s good about being body smart?

  • Body-smart kids think with touch and can make important discoveries by exploring an old bee hive with their hands just as picture-smart kids would discover truths by exploring it with their eyes.

  • These kids can learn a lot through role play and drama. Having them act out their favorite scene in a story or the emotional reactions of the explorers they’re studying in history class can enhance their understanding and memory.

  • Muscle movement helps them learn so things like sky writing (making their letters huge in the sky rather than small on paper), counting with their fingers, clapping their math facts, and taking a step for each letter in a spelling word can make studying effective and fun. They can stomp the silent “e” in “store” so they remember it’s there when they take their spelling test.

  • Body-smart children can be excellent at art projects and crafts that involve their hands, such as building with clay, making model cars, knitting, and making picture frames out of popsicle sticks for grandma’s Christmas present.

  • These children may especially enjoy musical instruments that allow them to move a lot (like drums and keyboard instruments) and where exact movement is essential (like the trombone and violin).

  • Drama can be an excellent community or school interest for these kids. They can make their whole body look old when they’re actually only 14-years-old.

  • Their coordination can make them more confident than other kids while doing science experiments that involve careful pouring and measuring.

  • They’ll enjoy conducting demonstrations of what they’ve learned.

  • They can learn puppetry, cooking, magic tricks, and other things that involve their hands.

  • They can help around the house with chores that require action, from setting the table, to holding a ladder for dad, to raking leaves, to washing windows, and everything in between.

  • They can volunteer to serve at home and school with their body-smart abilities – to paint a hallway, dig a hole for a new tree, sweep out the garage, walk their dog, pass out papers, sharpen pencils, clean whiteboards, and empty the trash.

  • There are many careers children with these strengths can enjoy and do well in.

What else have you noticed about body-smart kids?

Investing in your children, to help them develop their body-smart abilities is time well spent!