A young boy was unable to speak any comprehensible words until he was four years old and only began to read at the age of seven. His parents and teacher considered him ‘sub-normal’ or ‘slow’, and he was even expelled from school due to poor grades. Remarkably, this young boy grew up to shape the scientific world and won the Noble Prize for Physics in 1921. His name was Albert Einstein.
There are many children like Einstein – struggling in school until they find the right way to realise their strengths and capabilities. Educators and parents need to acknowledge that a child’s potential and intelligence may not be fully realised through traditional academic-focused teaching.
By believing that every child is talented, parents and teachers have the basis to develop all children. The role of a preschool teacher is to bring out the best in every child. This can be done if teachers create learning activities involving a child’s different ‘intelligences’. As Thomas Armstrong, the author of ‘Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom’ says, “Children will bloom in a thriving environment and teachers must help to nourish the intelligences of their students”.
Dr Howard Gardner, the founder of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences (or MI Theory), suggests that intelligence can interfere with learning. A student who has strong logical intelligence may do well in conceptualising a mathematical problem but may not be good at language learning. This student may have to use a logical or analytical way to learn reading and writing or even in appreciating the formation of meaningful words, and Einstein was a great example of this.
Many educators refer to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences to enable them to help children develop their potential more effectively. Gardner’s definition of intelligence led to the theory that no single teaching strategy works for all students all the time. The MI Theory opens the door to a wide variety of easily implemented teaching strategies. The discovery of the MI Theory has broadened good teaching into excellent or effective teaching. That is why many educators around the world are adopting MI as an effective approach to teaching and realizing the true potential of their young learners.
Why is the Multiple Intelligences (MI) approach practiced at REAL Kids?
MI is a better approach: more student-centred as opposed to the traditional approach, which is more teacher- centred. In the traditional approach the talk & chalk method is used where teachers instruct, and students listen. The MI approach encourages children to actively participate in the learning activities while teachers serve as facilitators.
The MI approach enables us to teach more effectively: catering to different intelligence in a variety of ways. Understanding that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach and children have different learning needs due to their different intelligences.
The MI approach helps us to assess children more holistically: The MI approach enables teachers to assess children’s capabilities in a holistic manner. Standard IQ tests assess children’s capabilities only in language and mathematical areas while MI assesses children in at least eight different areas of intelligence backing the notion that every child is intelligent in their own way.
The MI approach makes learning meaningful and enjoyable: many children do poorly in school because they are only exposed to the traditional ‘talk & chalk’ method. In many cases, this method is not the best way to learn and results in losing interest. Research has shown that children learn best through experiences and this leads to a lifelong love for learning.
The MI Approach helps identify the various intelligences in each child: a main feature of MI is identifying and recognising the different strengths and intelligences of every child. MI Theory suggests that everyone can be intelligent in many ways and that each of them is unique. Once teachers identify the various intelligences of a child, they can help to develop their intellect more effectively.
Recognising the value of diversity and a child’s individuality, REAL Kids believes the impact the MI approach has on preschool education. REAL Kids is also the pioneer of incorporating Multiple Intelligences in preschool education in Malaysia; with an in-house developed curriculum that is designed (based on MI Theory) to address the different learning needs of children. All REAL Kids teachers are well trained to deliver the MI approach using multi-faceted teaching.
For more information about REAL Kids – Malaysia’s largest owner-operated preschool group with 37 centres nationwide – visit www.realkids.edu.my. You can also contact Dorothy Chen (010 256 1477) or Alan Ng (018 201 23211) to have all your queries answered. Alternatively, visit a REAL Kids centre near you and get a free Multiple Intelligences profiling to assess your child’s areas of intelligence.