The Smarts #5

How To Determine Strengths

Let’s continue the series about your children’s intelligences. (You have them, too!) Today I’ll share an excerpt from my book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Childs’ Intelligences, about how to identify which smarts may be strengths. 


Your child’s smarts will usually be apparent first as interests. Therefore, spending time with your children—to see them and to hear them—is essential. When you and others notice their interests and nurture them by your positive responses, abilities will usually emerge and be strengthened. So, look for interests first. What does your son do in his spare time? What does your daughter spend her gift money on? What does your son keep talking about after school? Pay attention and ask yourself which smarts are represented. As you continue to be alert, you’ll discover whether these were fleeting interests or whether they give birth to real strengths.

As I’ll elaborate on in chapter 2, and include in each remaining chapter, paying attention to how each child misbehaves can also reveal smart strengths. Do they talk too much? Word smart. Move more than is appropriate and touch everything? Body smart. Manipulate people—even you? People smart. Think they must have reasons for everything before they obey? Logic smart. You get the idea.

School subjects and topics aligned with strong intelligences will usually be easiest and more enjoyable for your child so this is another thing to pay attention to. For example, history, fiction, and creative writing are related to being picture smart. Science is aligned with being logic smart and/or nature smart. Drama is often related to being people smart.

Teaching your child about the smarts can also help you identify intelligence strengths and weaknesses. You can observe reactions to details and examples you share and note which ones pique his or her curiosity. Then ask your child to identify his or her strengths. Your child will often know and be able to provide evidence. Your child may also be able to indicate which of the smarts are weak. (As you’ll understand after reading chapter 10, children who are not very self-smart will have a harder time with this self-analysis.)

It’s easier to identify strengths for older children. When children are young, because smarts are being awakened, their interests vary. They may build with blocks for a solid week and then want to investigate everything outside. They may discover a toy that makes noise and now be very interested in music. As children age, the top several smarts will usually become obvious. In the meantime, keep using them all.

Don’t do this so they all become strengths or “top smarts.” As I’ve already written, that’s not realistic. And don’t try to develop them or use them all at the same time. That’s overwhelming. I know too many children who need their own appointment calendars because they’re so busy. That’s not healthy. As you’ll come to understand as you read more, aim to expose your children to all the smarts as opportunities arise and strengths will naturally reveal themselves as you parent with balance.

Awakening, strengthening, and training children’s multiple intelligences are key ways to help them become who God created them uniquely to be. Nurture their smarts and discern which are passions and potentials. This means you will also discern which will remain less important to your children. Work to accept God’s choices for them. Your attitudes are essential to helping your children fulfill their God-given niche in the family, community, church, and in history. This is a significant responsibility!

From 8 Great Smarts, by Kathy Koch, PhD, (Moody Publishers, 2016), pages 33-35.


Step back and observe each of your children. Use your ears and eyes to hear and see new things that will help you identify their strengths. I pray that the ideas here help you determine strengths and that knowing about them will strengthen your relationship with your children and their abilities to succeed in their learning opportunities.