8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child's Intelligences

8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child's Intelligences


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Your child is smart, but does he or she believe it?

"Smart" is a power word. Children who believe they’re smart excel more in school and approach life with greater confidence. But children who don’t can struggle to apply themselves. Do you wish your child could see how smart he or she is?

Find hope in 8 Great Smarts. You’ll be empowered and equipped with new language and creative ideas for how to:

  • Accept and affirm your child’s unique smarts
  • Motivate your child to learn and study with all 8 smarts
  • Reawaken any "paralyzed" smarts
  • Redirect misbehavior in new, constructive ways
  • Guide your child spiritually, relationally, and to a good career fit

Dr. Kathy Koch loves seeing children flourish and helping parents make it happen—and it’s never too late to start. Now is the time to help your child be all that God designed him or her to be.

BONUS: Every book includes a FREE access code for the official 8 Great Smarts Quiz located at: www.8greatsmarts.com.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802413598
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Publication date: 03/01/2016
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 177,467
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.52(d)

About the Author

DR. KATHY KOCH is the Founder and President of Celebrate Kids, Inc., a Christian ministry based in Fort Worth, Texas. She is an internationally celebrated speaker who has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in over 25 countries through keynote messages, workshops, seminars, assemblies, and other events. She also blogs regularly at www.DrKathyKoch.com.Dr. Kathy coauthored with Jill Savage, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids For Who They Are, helps parents understand why they must get to know their children to parent them wisely. How Am I Smart? A Parent's Guide to Multiple Intelligences helps parents understand their children's learning strengths. Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness: 5 Questions That Will Change Your Life provides a solution-focused, enriching approach to real problems. Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World, helps parents make sense and respond to screen time that is rapidly replacing family time, especially among teens.Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University. She was a tenured associate professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a teacher of second graders, a middle school coach, and a school board member prior to becoming a full-time conference and keynote speaker in 1991.

Read an Excerpt

8 Great Smarts

Discover and Nurture Your Child's Intelligences

By Kathy Koch, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse

Moody Publishers

Copyright © 2016 Kathy Koch
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8024-1359-8



"Let's go!!"

"Girls, we don't want to be late."

"Mom, it's time to go again."

Between piano and dance recitals, the local homeschool group's spring musical, a voice recital by Abbie, and all the rehearsals, Tina and her two girls, Rachel, twelve, and Abbie, thirteen, were often flying in and out of the house. Tina was glad to support them, but she sure felt like a chauffeur.

It's no surprise both girls are active in these endeavors. Intelligences awakened when children are young are more likely to develop into strengths and that's exactly what happened. Their music-smart and body-smart abilities were awakened early because their parents are musically inclined and made sure to include these kinds of activities. Their picture-smart abilities were awakened, too, which helped them imagine and embrace their roles in the musical.

God used videos of quality musicals to awaken at least three of Abbie's and Rachel's eight intelligences — or "smarts" — their music smart, picture smart, and body smart when the girls were just preschoolers. Tina, their dad, Jeff, and I joked that the girls could have won a trivia game about Disney princesses and the Barbie videos, if anyone created such a game. They watched the videos over and over, memorized some of the dialogue, and often pretended they were Cinderella or Ariel.

Many of the videos the girls watched included gorgeous classical music recorded by some of the best orchestras in the world. At a very young age, they heard numerous instruments in stunning combinations and their music smarts were awakened.

These fast-moving productions stimulated Abbie's and Rachel's creativity and imaginations, and sparked their picture smarts. They observed characters dancing in the videos, so they danced. From twirling and leaping, they gained balance and an understanding of how their bodies work. This movement activated their body smarts.

There's more, though. Jeff and Tina's parenting didn't stop there. Because they responded to the girls' obvious interests in dance and music, their smarts weren't merely awakened. They were strengthened and, more significantly, trained.

Tina and Jeff chose to enroll the girls in a dance class. That wise decision honored the girls' strong interest in ballet, which stemmed from their video viewing. They've now taken lessons for eight straight years.

I was privileged to attend their first dance recital. They looked adorable in their bright lime tutus with puffy velvet sleeves. Just like the other girls in the group, they stared at the audience during part of the dance, looked at the girls next to them for a while, and then managed to dance a few steps. They were perfect for young beginners.

Some teen performers at the recital had clearly chosen to focus on dance. Their body smarts and music smarts were focused and trained. One dancer, in particular, impressed me. I believe she had more music-smart abilities than the other dancers. Though the other girls danced to the beat, I sensed she actually felt the music. She interpreted the emotion in the songs through her facial expressions and the flow of her arms. This was a beautiful example of how our eight intelligences work together. They rarely, if ever, work alone. Her music-smartness enhanced the way she used her body-smart abilities. Now Abbie and Rachel are able to do this, too.

Are your children into soccer, video games, math, or reading? Take note of what interests them most. Be sure to expose your young children to a variety of activities so their own unique, God-designed passions can be awakened. Thoughtful parents nurture their children's development.


Before knowing about multiple intelligences, I would have written the previous section about two girls who were creative and musical. I would have called them talented. I'm grateful for Dr. Howard Gardner's research and the beautiful reality that Rachel and Abbie are creative, musical, and talented because they are smart.

What's the big deal? Smart is a power word. Everyone wants to be smart. As I'll write about in later chapters, if some children believe others are smart and they're not, they can give up. They lower their expectations for today and tomorrow. They may not accomplish what God intended them to. This is also true of adults. Language is powerful. Words matter.

I love the freedom of thinking about children and adults through the grid of multiple intelligences. When I taught second graders, it was painful for me to realize some children were already classifying themselves as either "smart" or "not smart." Their parents were doing the classifying, too, which is probably where their children picked it up. I would have loved having the language of intelligences. I could have pointed out how Paul, Tracy, Worthy, and others were smart. This would have framed relationships, academics, our year, and their future differently.

I've met many adults who didn't have the opportunity for much post high school education. My mom was one of these, although she was extremely bright. She doubted it, at least somewhat, because she didn't have the traditional proof. She always enjoyed hearing me teach on this topic and I think that's one of the reasons.

My mom could remember significant details from the news and analyze them carefully. She co-led several very successful political campaigns for her father. She sang in tune and had a great appreciation for classical music. She had two green thumbs and made our home beautiful. She wrote and spelled well and served on various committees because of these abilities. She was a trusted friend to many and could work a room of complete strangers as well as her father, the gifted politician. My mom was smart. Multiple intelligences allow us to look beyond old "proofs" of grades and degrees to see evidence of smarts in life.

Although it was probably fifteen years ago, I still remember the woman who came up to me at the end of a seminar for educators. She was clearly excited so I knew her noticeable tears were tears of joy. She introduced herself as a teacher's aide and explained she had never finished her teaching degree because she hadn't thought she was smart enough. She declared, "I'm enrolling to finish immediately! I am smart!"

I am so privileged! It's never too late to discover more about yourself. I truly hope there are truths on these pages that bless you as a woman or man and then also as a parent, grandparent, teacher, or someone who cares about children. There is power here! Let's get more specific.

The father of the theory of multiple intelligences is Dr. Howard Gardner, of Harvard University. His first book on this topic was published in 1983. Dr. Tom Armstrong, his former colleague, has written more popularized and less academic versions of Dr. Gardner's work. I'll be using his labels for the intelligences:


If you're familiar with the theory that some people are right-brained and some are left-brained, many scholars no longer believe this theory explains as many differences among people as once thought. Many of us see the theory of multiple intelligences as a much more accurate understanding of different ways people learn and process ideas.

Nature and Nurture

Dr. Gardner determined that everyone is born with each of these distinct intelligences. They have to be awakened, but they're there, built into each person at birth. God uses our nature (our genetic makeup) and nurture (experiences we have and attitudes surrounding us) to create us as He wants us to be. Dr. Gardner stated the idea this way: "I reject the 'inherited versus learned' dichotomy and instead stress the interaction, from the moment of conception, between genetic and environmental factors."

When "sitting at the potter's wheel" (Isaiah 64:8) and "knitting us together in our mother's womb" (Psalm 139:13–14), God chose our unique combination of genes to develop His gift of multiple intelligences. He did this for you and each of your children. He chose which smarts would be strengths. He chose you as the parent. The nurture you provide matters.

If a child grows up with apathetic or absent parents, poverty, abuse, or any number of other negative factors, his or her smarts may remain weaker throughout life. This may be partly due to lies children believe about themselves when parented in these situations. "I don't matter." "I'll never amount to anything." "My ideas aren't important." A child believing these truths won't bother investing in himself to develop latent gifts. The quality of your nurture matters.

Sadly, some children's intelligences don't fully develop. Perhaps illness or disease is the cause. For example, Merry, the adult daughter of a friend, is severely disabled both physically and mentally, with capabilities similar to a two-month-old. Yet Miki beams when sharing evidence that Merry's strongest intelligences are music and people. The nurturing Merry receives makes the difference. Though her development is very limited, Merry responds to music and people around her. For instance, when a prospective nurse arrives, Merry's parents have learned to use Merry's quick evaluation when determining whether to hire her. Merry will give her mom a certain look if she doesn't like the nurse, and Miki knows not to hire her.

Nature and nurture together determine which intelligences will interest your child. That's where strengths always start — with interest. Some smarts will become strengths, some may not develop much at all, and some will plateau at a point in between. When you exhibit healthy and positive attitudes and provide a variety of interesting experiences for your child, you cooperate with God in the development of his or her smarts and full potential. The nurture you provide is very important!

Awakening Smarts

Abbie and Rachel provide evidence that awakening children's smarts early is advantageous. They're more likely to become strengths. This is why the girls are still dancing and playing the piano. There are many ways to awaken the smarts. You can explore the unknown with your son, create new experiences for your daughter, and attend cultural events with your extended family.

It's never too late to awaken a part of the mind. And, it stays awake to our influence for many years. Here's what I wrote about our 100 billion neurons, the cells that are the brain's conduits of information, in Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World:

Only about 20 percent of those connections are hard-wired by God. They account for things we all learn ... Connections of the other 80 percent of the brain's neurons are formed by what we do prior to age twenty-five. Doing something a few times won't result in a firm connection, but repetitive beliefs, attitudes, and actions result in solid connections. They are considered "soft" in comparison to the hardwiring God causes during conception, but they become "harder" the more we use them. I'm thankful we can still learn new things as we age!

Are you encouraged? You should be! Through age twenty-five, many changes to the brain can occur. And, even after that, we can keep learning. Yes!

So, a particular intelligence might not become a definite strength because of a late start, but any smart can be improved, focused, and trained. They can also be paralyzed. I'll explain this in chapter 2.

Even though our smarts always work together, as in the example of Rachel and Abbie dancing with both their music-smart and body-smart abilities, for the purposes of this book, I'll be writing about "nature-smart children" and "people-smart children," etc. This doesn't mean these children don't have the other intelligences. It's just that I need to isolate the qualities of each in order for you to understand them.

Growth Remains

There's more. Can you picture two balloons — one that's been blown up and deflated and one that's never been used? You can tell which is which, can't you? Once stretched, a balloon never goes back to its original size. The mind is the same. Things you did when you were young stretched parts of your mind and each part will be forever larger than they were. These increases are a significant reason to provide your child with a variety of experiences during all ages and stages.

Like me. I'm a former viola player. Although I haven't played for more than thirty years, if we both picked up a viola and you've never played one, I could play better than you. Experiences awaken and then expand our smarts. That's why I could also learn to play the violin faster and more easily than someone who has never played a string instrument. Once a smart is awakened, any use of it is easier. Be encouraged!


There are many wonderful benefits of understanding the eight great smarts. Are you curious? Read on!

Confidence Increases

Every child wants to be smart. When your son wonders if he is or concludes that he's not, he can be defeated before starting on an assignment or listening to a teacher or you. Is your daughter ever discouraged because she doesn't think she's as smart as she thinks she needs to be? Perhaps you're sometimes disheartened, too. It's not fun!

At the beginning of my programs about our smarts, some children have a hard time believing they have all eight. Maybe school is hard for them. Or they may have been told they're stupid. Maybe they don't earn many As or Bs.

As children hear each of the intelligences described, they begin to believe the evidence I provide. They elbow their siblings or parents and I see them mouth the words, "That's me!" Their smiles, and those on parents' faces, too, indicate past hurts and current doubts are being healed and erased. Fabulous! The children relax before my eyes. By the end of the program, when I ask them to raise their hands to indicate their top four smarts, many struggle with the limit. What joy to see them go from not thinking they're smart to struggling to choose only four intelligence strengths an hour later! (It's common for parents to indicate they feel smarter, too. Yes! They'll parent better because of new understandings about their past and increased confidence. Although your child will be the focus as you continue reading, be open to discovering truths about how you are smart. Get ready to reject lies!)

When you and your child understand there are eight intelligences, the question changes from "Am I smart?" and "How smart am I?" to the much more valuable "How am I smart?" It's no longer about the amount of intelligence but instead about which intelligences are strengths. And, it's not as much about comparing with others as it is becoming who we were designed to be.

Children taught about the eight great smarts will apply themselves, have the confidence to tackle more challenging work, and learn more efficiently and strategically. Teach them truths from this book, talk about the smarts as situations present themselves, point out everyday uses, and affirm them specifically with language that builds them up. "You sight-read that well because you're music smart" is much more valuable than, "Good job." "You're self-smart. That's why you came up with those unique ideas on your own. I'm impressed!" is much more valuable than "I never would have thought of that!" or "What made you think of that crazy idea?"

If you're homeschooling your child, you can use many ideas in chapters 3 to 10 to teach to all eight parts of the mind. You can teach with one smart and reteach or review with another. If you're not your child's teacher, you can use different intelligences when helping your child complete homework, study for tests, and learn Scripture. Studying with more than one intelligence helps children better understand what they're learning. They'll remember what they learn longer, apply their learning more accurately, and be more optimistic for the future. Their grades will often improve.


Excerpted from 8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse. Copyright © 2016 Kathy Koch. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1. "How Am I Smart?" An Introduction to Multiple Intelligences

2. What Are My Core Needs? How are Multiple Intelligences Relevant?

3. I Think with Words... I Am Developing My Word Smart!

4. I Think With Questions... I Am Developing My Logic Smart!

5. I Think With Pictures... I Am Developing My Picture Smart!

6. I Think with Rhythms and Melodies... I Am Developing My Music Smart!

7. I Think With Movement and Touch... I Am Developing Body Smart!

8. I Think with Patterns... I Am Developing My Nature Smart!

9. I Think with People... I Am Developing My People Smart!

10. I Think by Reflecting... I Am Developing My Self Smart!

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