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

As I’ve already written about for word smart  and logic smart, the way children are smart can be a source of frustration. When we realize why kids are frustrated, we’ll be able to help them more efficiently and effectively. This will increase their motivation and success.

Today let’s tackle kids who are picture smart. Okay. I have to ask. Did you just see a picture-smart child you know tackled by a big, strong defensive end? If you did, it’s because of your picture-smart strengths. Maybe, in the picture in your mind, the child is wearing a colorful shirt that declares, “I am picture smart.” Or, maybe she was drawing and not even aware she was about to get pummeled. I just simply and innocently used a word and look what happened.

When picture smart is a strength, it’s common for learners to visualize what they read and hear. That’s great because it can increase motivation, comprehension, and memory. They can see the colors their kindergarten teacher talks about, the explorers dealing with unknown territory when in grade 4, and the look of terror on the main character’s face during a high school English class.

But, what if they see someone tackled because the word is used, but its use isn’t related to football? What if, when singing “Our God reigns,” they see God raining? This can even happen if they know what “reign” means because “rain” is more common. These visuals, and others like them, can cause behavior issues. These kids may laugh out loud, which seems perfectly okay to them, only to find out no one knows what’s funny. That can be embarrassing, and without self-control, it can be hard for them to get back on task.

Let these kids know they’re visualizing because they are smart. Tell them you don’t want them to stop thinking with their eyes, but do talk about staying focused. They can learn to honor themselves and their teacher by returning to the lesson’s point in their minds regardless of what they saw. They need to learn to listen for the truths. For example, how many kids might you know who remember there’s someone in the Bible who had a coat with many colors? They may be able to describe the coat the way they think it was, but may not remember anything about the person or the truths we can learn from his life. This obviously isn’t good.

Picture-smart strengths can result in good memory, careful attention to visual details, strong attention during demonstrations and field trips, and prioritizing pictures, maps, and graphs in textbooks and on websites. They may have creative imaginations and be good at art. Many will appreciate beauty and also have a good sense of humor.

History and fiction tend to be academic strengths because the action comes alive for them. Especially if they also have word-smart strengths, they may be good creative writers. They’ll use vivid adjectives and strong action verbs because they’re seeing what they’re writing. They also may be good spellers because they remember what the word looked like the last time they saw it.

When picture smart is not a strength, fiction can be challenging and boring. The same is true for history and creative writing. But, every person is picture smart so even if it’s not a strength, we can all learn to take the time to visualize and even sketch on paper to help us. For instance, if you didn’t see children getting tackled when you read that sentence earlier, the chances are good you did see them by the end of that paragraph because of my examples. This is what you can explain to children . It will increase their confidence and decrease their frustration.

Remembering lots of details may not be easy because they won’t have a picture in their mind to aid their memory. And, needing to compare and contrast details of things they see probably won’t be a strength. Traditional art and design may not be enjoyed or something they’re good at.

Teachers with picture-smart strengths may assume all their students see what they see when listening to explanations and reading stories and informational text. Students who don’t will be at a disadvantage and may even feel lost as teachers refer to things. If you think this is your son’s case, I encourage you to talk with his teacher as well as your child.

I hope this has made sense and is helpful. Choose something to observe for. Then talk with your kids. Watch for next Wednesday’s post about frustrations that may be due to children’s music-smart abilities.