Understand your child’s kind of intelligence

Book review by Kathy Kuhl of Dr. Kathy Koch’s book 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences     

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

When parents come to me for advice at conventions, I often ask about their children’s strengths. Some of us have kids with learning disabilities so severe, it’s hard to remember to focus on the strengths. So I ask, “What’s he good at?” “What’s she enjoy doing?” because our kids’ strengths are the keys to their success.

When Dr. Kathy Koch (pronounced “Cook”) told me about her book on multiple intelligences, I thought it might help. I was sent an advance copy, without obligation, and I think it’s helpful for parents of children and teens with learning challenges. I want to tell you about it, so you can see if it’s right for you. Also, below I’ll be giving away two copies, also courtesy the author.

There have been other books on the theory of multiple intelligences, but Dr. Kathy Koch’s is particularly accessible and practical. To begin, she gives a good explanation of the theory, originally developed by Dr. Howard Gardner and popularized by Dr. Tom Armstrong. She believes everyone has the capacity to develop in each area of intelligence, and everyone is particularly strong in one or more of these areas. I’ll list Dr. Gardner’s terms in parentheses, quoting from Kathy Koch’s book, page 18:

  • “Word smart (linguistic intelligence): thinks with words
  • Logic smart (logical-mathematical intelligence) thinks with questions
  • Picture smart (spatial intelligence) thinks with pictures/eyes
  • Music smart (musical intelligence) thinks with rhythm/melodies
  • Body smart (bodily-kinesthetic intelligence) thinks with movement/touch
  • Nature smart (naturalist intelligence) thinks with patterns
  • People smart (interpersonal intelligence) thinks with people
  • Self smart (interpersonal intelligence) thinks with reflection”

After an introduction to the idea of multiple intelligences, she advises how to identify a child’s strengths. Intriguingly, how children misbehave can give you a clue to their strengths.

(This reminds me of a friend. She told me that when she was five, she was generally obedient, but she kept crossing the street without permission, to sit on one neighbor’s front steps and listen to her play piano. She couldn’t resist the music. Her wise father corrected her, but also noticed how she adored the music, and eventually bought a piano, launching my friend’s career as a pianist.)

Kathy Koch then discusses how smarts and character affect each other. She considers  unhealthy ways a child may use their smarts, and how parents can respond most effectively.

Next, she devotes a chapter to each kind of intelligence. Her pattern for each chapter is first to describe behavior of kids with this kind of “smarts.” Then she talks about education: how this kind of intelligence gives certain advantages and challenges in learning. Then she describes who to help kids strengthen this area of intelligence. She identifies what struggles a child with each kind of smarts may have, and what careers and education to consider for them. Finally, she explains how this kind of smarts affects relationships, spiritual growth, and character. I like that this book takes a broader approach, since I had not seen other writing on multiple intelligences that relates them to character.

Yes, spiritual growth. Kathy Koch is writes from a Christian perspective, seeing God as the loving designer of our children in all their wonderful variety. If her mentioning God sounds like it might put you off, I suggest you read a sample of this book on Amazon before you decide whether to buy. I think there is much here anyone would find helpful.

Kathy Koch’s descriptions of learning struggles don’t always rise to the complexity or difficulty that some of our children face, but I still think it would help parents of children with learning challenges to think through these areas of intelligence, and this book makes that pretty straightforward.

So I recommend Kathy Koch’s book, 8 Great Smarts: Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences, which is available here on Amazon and Kindle.

Congratulations to my blog readers Robin and Jolene, winners of copies of 8 Great Smarts, courtesy Dr. Kathy Koch.


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  1. I’ve recently come to the point where I feel like I need to let go of focusing on helping my daughter in her areas of severe weakness and focus on her strengths. This book would definitely help me lead her down a successful path of learning! Thanks for the review!