The Smarts #9 - Word Smart: Writing And Talking And More

The Smarts #9

Word Smart: Writing And Talking And More

Today I’ll continue the series about the 8 great smarts with information about being WORD smart. You can read more in my book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Childs’ Intelligences, including how to strengthen this smart, and how it relates to learning, relationships, careers, character, and spiritual growth.


Word-smart children think with words. When they’re excited they almost always talk. They need time to read and they need to be heard when they want an audience. They get joy from using exactly the right word at the right time. Their power is language.

Although word-smart children like talking with others, they don’t need an audience. They’re often content talking to themselves while they play, work, and study. Sometimes you’ll hear them, but sometimes they’ll admit to talking to themselves inside their heads where no one else can hear.

During my presentations on the eight smarts, I ask children if they are distracted by their own voices—even when they are trying hard to listen to you or their teachers. Many of them laugh and raise their hands. It’s fun for them to discover others talk inside their minds like they do.

Children who are very word smart may begin talking at an early age. They may have been more curious about writing than their siblings and learned their letters easily. When older, they write willingly and well and read in their spare time for information and/or enjoyment. They handle most textbooks and assignments successfully, often being able to remember details. They have a large vocabulary, and they speak confidently and can listen accurately. They tend to be well informed and often want to share their opinions and ideas with others. Also, learning and retaining a new language easily and using what they know is further evidence of being word smart. For all these reasons, most word-smart children enjoy school and do well there.

There are many ways these children’s abilities can benefit others. They can serve on their school yearbook committee, volunteer to tutor children at a homeless shelter, assist in children’s church when they’re too old to attend themselves, listen attentively to their great-aunt’s stories, and/or hone their speaking abilities as part of a speech team. They may also learn a second language and serve God during a summer mission trip with people who use that language.

Most word-smart children are good at explaining things. They may help their sisters and brothers understand something. They may tutor peers or students younger than them. They may also argue, persuade, and entertain with words. Does this sound like one or more of your children?

If your son does not argue well, he still might be quite word smart. Arguing is rooted in word and logic smart. So if your son doesn’t argue, it’s possible that logic smart is not one of his strengths. However, word smart still could be. It’s also possible that he is logic smart, but his character and Christlikeness prevent him from arguing, as they should for all of us.

A child who demonstrates most of the behaviors I included here could be classified as having word-smart strengths. In contrast, a child who talks a lot, but doesn’t necessarily talk to explain or persuade, or who doesn’t enjoy writing, may be an auditory learner instead of a word-smart child. This means she remembers best the things she hears herself say. It’s an important strength and can help with academics, but it’s not the same as being word smart. While reading these chapters, you’ll want to determine whether your child has high or low interest and high or low abilities according to each smart’s explanation. Look for what they do and how much of it they do. Look for patterns of ability and interest, not isolated occurrences.

From 8 Great Smarts, by Kathy Koch, PhD, (Moody Publishers, 2016), pages 56-59.

Who do you know who is word smart? Affirm these people. If you think they put others down because traditional learning is easier for them, make sure to talk with them about their attitudes and how those others are smart, too. How could you help them benefit others because they’re word smart? Talk with them.