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

“It sure is ugly outside today.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know. It’s so cloudy and foggy. It’s dark and the air just looks heavy today.”

“It’s just another kind of beauty.”

“What?”

“It’s just another kind of beauty.”

A friend and I had this conversation. I’m the one asking “What?” with disbelief in my voice and a perplexed expression on my face. My friend is so nature smart that she sees beauty in it all. Because of her, I’m more nature smart then I used to, but I’m still not as nature smart as she is.

Nature-smart children would rather be outside than inside. Like my friend, they enjoy exploring nature and will often want to get up close to plants and animals. They’ll touch them, even when they maybe shouldn’t, so you’ve discovered you have to keep an eye on them.

In my school assemblies, I ask children to raise their hand if they like to get dirty. Boys and girls raise them high and laugh when discovering others like to get dirty, too. These are the nature-smart children.

When being nature smart, we think with patterns. That’s why children with this intelligence strength enjoy collecting things based on sizes, shapes, and designs. They may collect rocks and seashells. They might also collect stamps, coins, little race cars, and zipper pulls for their backpacks.

Does your son enjoy pointing out the distinguishing details on his race cars? Does he remember how they’re similar and different? When he’s at the store to buy another one, does he remember he already has one with wide green stripes, so he buys the one with yellow stripes instead? Although being picture smart may play into this, his attention to patterns indicates nature-smart abilities.

Learning and studying is made easier when these children apply similar strategies. Imagine your son or daughter examining letters to see the pattern in ‘F’ and ‘T’ and ‘B’ and ‘b’ and ‘d.’ They can examine details in illustrations, differences between words like ‘star’ and ‘stare,’ and similarities among chemical reactions in experiments.

Nature-smart children will probably do better in earth science and biology than in general science and chemistry. If they’re also strong in logic-smart, they may do well in all sciences.

In history classes, these children may enjoy learning about explorers who used stars to guide their way and the tracking skills of Native Americans. In an English class unit on biographies, we can encourage them to read about a naturalist because they’ll probably be more motivated to do well.

Positive and healthy uses of being nature smart include taking care of pets and helping parents in the yard and garden. These children may volunteer at an animal shelter. Imagine your child inventing a new plant that helps to overcome hunger in Africa because it takes less time to grow and more than one crop can be planted and harvested in one rainy season.

Who do you know who is nature smart? Encourage them by telling them they’re smart and not just “good with animals.” Share with children what you’ve learned here and discuss ways of using this smart in wise ways.

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