Nature-smart kids like to get dirty. That’s just one of the ways they can frustrate themselves and others. When we understand multiple intelligences and the specific ways our children are smart, we can help them process their feelings and be smart with their smarts.

Nature-smart kids think with patterns, like to study plants and animals, enjoy being outside, and prefer to go outside when they’re excited. The patterns may have something to do with nature. For instance, patterns can help them remember which tree has pointed leaves and which one has round leaves. But, the patterns don’t have to have anything to do with plants or animals at all. Patterning is natural for nature-smart kids.

When nature smart is a strength, children may get frustrated when they’re not allowed to go outside. It might be due to weather or they may have homework to finish or chores to do. But, they won’t like being cooped up for long. For example, if you live where it’s been bitter cold this month and you’ve needed to keep these kids inside, I predict they’re driving you and everyone else nuts.

Because kids with nature-smart strengths like to examine patterns and can get lost in them, they’ll be frustrated when they can’t. Perhaps in an art class, they just want to observe and analyze the colored pencils in a row on the teacher’s desk rather than listen to his plan’s for their class. They would say to me, “Dr. Kathy, the teacher just got in my way of what I wanted to do.”

And, they’ll frustrate others when they do get lost in the patterns. For example, I’ve known nature-smart kids who get lost staring at the pattern of wood grain in their desk and don’t hear anything their teachers say. Others get lost examining the pattern in their knit sweater and don’t hear their parents talking. It’s certainly understandable that these teachers and parents will be frustrated.

When nature smart is not a strength, being outside may frustrate children. They may actually not enjoy the fresh air, wind, and sun during recess. At home, they may prefer to play inside. Parents may be frustrated having them around all the time and confused that they don’t want to play outside. But, these are the kids who won’t want to get dirty and they don’t enjoy getting cold or hot.

These kids won’t typically enjoy patterns or pay attention to them. They won’t enjoy categorizing things by shape or design. Collecting things for their design or patterns, like coins, pine cones, or seashells, won’t come naturally to them. If others are having fun doing these kinds of things or these kids are expected to enter in to the activities, they may act out behaviorally.

We can help kids without nature-smart strengths be successful by pointing out patterns that are important. We may think they’re obvious, but they won’t be to these kids. This can include spelling patterns (e.g., hop/hope, was/saw, train/rain), math patterns (e.g., 3+1=4 and 1+3=4, the differences between squares and rectangles), and patterns in history and science classes like learning how explorers followed stars and how chemicals are abbreviated.

Students who have nature-smart strengths will be less frustrated when completing assignments if they’re allowed to consider this intelligence when choosing a focus. For example, they may prefer learning how Native Americans tracked animals, how minerals are mined, how new plants are invented to grow in places like Africa where the soil isn’t rich with minerals and there’s a lot of heat with little rain, and careers like managing a pet shelter, and being a veterinarian, forest ranger, farmer, and horticulturist.

As with the other smarts, it’s all about choices we offer them and teaching them about themselves so they can make wise choices. Both will limit frustration s. Try it today.

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For the first five posts in this series, you can search our Multiple Intelligences archives. You could also use the “Search my blog” box at the very top of the sidebar for all posts related to your topic of interest.

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