Previous blog posts have explored ways that we can help young children grow their brains and develop their kindergarten readiness. Instead of asking “How smart is this child?” we can turn the question around and ask “How is this child smart?” That gives us more information about a child’s individual strengths and challenges because each child is unique. The notion of multiple intelligences says that we are all smart in different ways. New research is also showing that children’s brains grow with stimulation so yes!! we can make kids smarter. In addition to the 8 of body-smart, word-smart, logic/math smart, picture-smart, self-smart, people-smart, music-smart and nature-smart there’s a new one: wondering-smart.
Wondering-smart is somewhat different for adults than for kids. I think it’s about time that being able to imagine is recognized as a part of intelligence. Yeah, for imagination! How can you encourage your child to develop wondering and imagination?
Read books about anything and everything. When you can’t read a book, make up a story. “Once upon a time, instead of a bus driving down the street there was a giant bath tub…” or “Once upon a time a cloud bumped into the sun and…”
Put out some dress-up clothes for your child to stimulate imagining.
Wonder together about the wind, or what the bee says to the flower, or if the sun ever sees the moon. Children have never seen dinosaurs. Contrary to the opinion of older kids, parents have never seen them either! Yet, we all wonder about them and what our world was like in the time of dinosaurs.
Playing is a wondering-smart activity. Playing also promotes being smart in the other areas. Are you ensuring that your child’s day includes play-time to encourage kindergarten readiness and make your child smarter? Are you also squeezing some play-time in for yourself so that you share the wonder of it all?
People-smart skills are obviously important for kindergarten readiness (as well as being one of the 8 multiple intelligences). Being in a group with lots of young kids and not very many adults is not easy for little ones. It’s a big learning step. Were you ever called a social-butterfly? Or a loner? Social butterflies are likely those with strong people-smart intelligence while loners are those with people-smart challenges. Very young children can have these same strengths and challenges. Some of these skills seem to already be part of a child’s personality and we can encourage kids to develop others and help them cope in groups.
- Find an unbreakable mirror or one safely attached to the wall and take turns making faces with your child. What does a sad face look like? How about a very mad one? A happy face would look like so happy that other people might smile. This helps your child learn to read facial expressions and understand how others feel.
- If possible, participate in groups such as story-time at the library or other community programs. Not all kids feel comfortable in large groups of people and need practice.
- As you read books and share stories, ask your child what the characters in the story might be feeling? You may need to supply most of the words, for example, do you think that Piglet is feeling sad or is Eeyore kind of sad? The Berenstain Bears often explore problems and solutions but there are lots of other kids’ books, stories and videos about different ways of getting along with others.
As with self-smart/me-smart “I” messages need to be practiced over and over. “I” messages are ways to say “I don’t like…” instead of “You make me…” For example, “I don’t like when you won’t share,” is more effective than “You are mean.”
Play-dates let kids explore playing with others and learn to share and take turns.
Sharing meals and sharing jobs around the house is another way that kids can participate with others.
These are a few suggestions for encouraging children learn to be people-smart. What activities are appropriate to help your child develop interpersonal intelligence and kindergarten readiness so as to become people-smarter?
Awareness and understanding of oneself is not just kindergarten readiness; it’s a life-long process. Kids seem to be all about “ME” but there are ways that we can help children develop positive and healthy self-smart or me-smart skills (one of the 8 multiple intelligences).
- Read books and share stories. Franklin was aware that he was afraid of the dark. Scaredy Squirrel likes to stay in his very own space. Talk with your child about when s/he feels scared.Winnie the Pooh knows that he loves honey. Ask your child about what s/he likes and doesn’t like.
Balance times when your child plays alone with times to play with others. Children who are me-smart are often independent and do not mind playing by themselves. They may need encouragement to interact with others.
Display your child’s art work on the fridge or a window in the kitchen. If possible, mail a few to grandparents or cousins.
Have some dress-up clothes so your child can explore different ‘selfs’.
If needed, before your child goes to a program without you, practice the words needed to tell the adults that s/he needs to use the restroom, has a tummy-ache, is feeling too hot or too cold.
- Encourage self-reliance such as getting dressed with only minimal help, tucking pajamas away, washing hands.
Using “I” messages is both a me-smart and people-smart strategy. Instead of saying “Don’t grab my toy” an “I” message might be “I don’t like when you take my toy.” The words “I don’t like when you sit in my spot,” are more effective than “You’re making me mad.” Learning how to resolve conflicts is such a big learning challenge for young children. Adult support is really needed to help kids feel confident enough to share their feelings and negotiate with others.
Formula Mom on her blog says “Those with a strength in the intrapersonal intelligence are almost the opposite of those with interpersonal intelligence.” That is, they may be very independent and self-contained. Those who have a challenge in this area may follow what others like and do rather than exploring their own interests. Each child has both strengths and challenges. Developing self-smart or me-smart helps for kindergarten readiness and beyond. How will you encourage your child to be self-smarter?
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Any day is great for kindergarten readiness no matter if it’s sunny, windy, rainy, warm or cold. Weekends sometimes have more time for nature activities but we can encourage and help children to be nature-smart every single day of the week. (Nature-smart is the child-friendly version of naturalist intelligence, part of multiple intelligences.) Following is … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Nature Smart Activities for Kids
You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out. You put your right hand in for kinder-gar-ten read-i-ness. You do the Hockey-Pokey and develop brains and that’s what it’s all about! And that really is what kindergarten readiness is about. Developing kindergarten readiness tags along with developing children’s brains and all their … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Body-Smart Activities for Kids
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Kindergarten readiness can be tricky to evaluate but it’s easy to pick out kids who are word-smart. These are the ones that have an unusual vocabulary, lots of words and enjoy talking to practically anybody. Some of this is due to their own personalities and talents but ALL children benefit by language stimulation. Hold onto … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Word-Smart Activities for Kids
Since April Showers bring May Flowers, posts this month on how to support your child’s kindergarten readiness will be about flowers, learning flowers that is. Just like flowers grow, so do children’s brains. We used to think Intelligence was a single quantity that was fixed in your genes but we now know that early stimulation influences … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Making Your Child Smarter