things are too often thought of as the primary measures of what it means to
There are many educators, psychologists, and researchers, especially in the
field of early childhood education, who recognize that there are multiple ways
to define intelligence. One of the best-known proponents of this view is How-
ard Gardner, a developmental psychologist who created the theory of multiple
intelligences. Gardner proposes that what we might call “book smart” is just
one kind of intelligence. He suggests there may actually be at least eight dif-
ferent kinds of intelligence (Gardner 1999, 2006):
1. Verbal/linguistic describes young children who might be especially tal-
ented in reading, speaking, and singing. They might be able to mem-
orize the words to a complicated song after just one listen and then
perform the song by heart, as well as adapt the song by changing the
words to make their own versions.
2. Logical/mathematical describes young children who are able to think
conceptually, use clear reasoning, and recognize abstract relationships.
They might be able to create a steering system for a wagon on their own
by observing the relationships between the movement of the handle,
the turning of the wheels, and the direction of travel.
3. Visual/spatial describes young children who see the world in colors and
shapes. They might be able to complete a complex puzzle, create a pat-
terned mosaic using colored blocks, or draw a road map of their neigh-
borhood showing landmarks such as their home and school.
4. Bodily/kinesthetic describes young children who use bodily sensations,
like touch, to learn about the world. They might be children who fidget
all through story time but then create a graceful and expressive dance
that retells the fairy tale they just heard.
5. Musical describes young children who learn through rhythm and mel-
ody. They might learn to play a musical instrument with relative ease
and, in school, use sounds to help themselves learn and remember
important facts and ideas.
6. Interpersonal describes young children who are very social. They under-
stand and care about people. They learn best in a group and enjoy hav-
ing a partner for most activities.
Characteristics of Exceptionally Bright Children