Educational and Fun

The use of Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is gaining popularity in the planning of early childhood teachers. As more and more parents desire to hear their children are gifted, teachers are learning new ways to demonstrate each child’s unique gifts and abilities. Breaking talents down into seven areas help us define where are children are excelling. While we need to all have skills in each of these areas, each child will naturally have a different selection of skills they are more confident and comfortable in using. This is not from being taught, but refers more to the innate talent and gifts each of us were born with.

Howard Gardner believed there were seven main areas a person could display intelligence. As our children are growing, it is unwise to try and train them up in one intelligence of our choosing. It is far better to help them develop skills and experience sides of each intelligence so that they have a taste of each. In doing so, we allow our children the ability to develop in their area of strength naturally rather than at our own hand. We may all want a child who is an accountant or a doctor, but some children are more naturally inclined towards the arts or physical activity. We need to allow our children to be all they were created to be- rather than all we desire them to be. Hopefully as parents, our first priority is to see our children work in the talents they were born with, rather than in the skills they have laboriously worked at with little joy.

Planning and hosting a birthday provides the perfect opportunity to help your child develop skills in each of these intelligences while having plenty of fun at the same time! Try one idea under each section and your children will have had the opportunity to discover how they feel about using that type of skill in a practical and useful way.

INTERPERSONAL AND INTRAPERSONAL

The two intelligence models that relate directly to people are interpersonal and interpersonal intelligences. For a party your child will need to use their interpersonal skills of socialising, including others, playing fair and helping people feel welcomed at the party. For some children this is a natural exercise. Children strong in this intelligence will love entertaining and respond well to all the stimulation a party can bring.

If your child does not enjoy this type of experience, it is better to organise a smaller size party with only one or two friends rather than a large group. Children with strong intrapersonal skills may also enjoy the planning more than the actual event. For children who are definitely more intrapersonal than interpersonal, it may be a good idea to provide them with a refuge space for them to have a little time out during the party in case all the exciting emotions get the better of them and they become a little overwhelmed.

LINGUISITIC

Children who have strength in this intelligence love words. They will enjoy working out the invitations, and writing the thank you notes after the party. Involve them in helping you create a treasure hunt with written clues for the guests to decipher.

Another way to develop this intelligence is to get them to help you cook with recipes to read, make shopping lists for party food and make lists of who they would like to invite. They may also like to write out a party plan. If they are too little to write independently, spend a lot of time talking over the plans and preparation. You can help them record their ideas.

MATHEMATICAL

Children can develop this skill by working out the quantities of food required, how much it will cost for a party at McDonalds or similar, measuring out craft material for any activity and counting how many days or hours it is to go before their birthday. You can talk about being one year older and who is the oldest and youngest in your family. Talk about how we grow every year and compare their size when a baby to now. Talk about days of the week, months of the year and calendar dates.

ARTISTIC

Children who are developing this intelligence can have a lot of fun at a party. They can design the invitations, place cards at the food table, draw on party balloons and help decorate the cake. We always provide a craft activity my daughter and I have designed at our parties. This gives the children an activity to do. My daughter loves the quiet time spent completing the task at the birthday- a craft sch as a hat, a mask or a fairy wand/pirate scabbard can be a good option. Decorating the table can also be a good activity for developing this intelligence.

KINESTHETIC

Kinaesthetic Intelligence is shown best in children who love to move and be active. While all children enjoy this to a certain extent, these types of children excel in sports and physical activity.

It is a great idea to add some physical games into your party plan to burn off some of that excess energy young children can bring to a party. Play hide and go seek, duck duck goose, or make an obstacle course for each child to pass through.

NATURALISTIC

Some children seem to have a natural affinity with the natural world. They feel most at peace in a garden or in spending times with animals. This can help develop the theme or experiences of the party- you could go on a zoo visit, or have a picnic in the park. We have been known to rent a pony for pony rides! However living in a big city can make this difficult. Other options are getting them to help you prepare fruit platters for the party, and creating a beautiful party table using natural objects sch as flowers and fruit.

When we first begin to think of planning in terms on developing our children’s innate intelligences it can seem rather daunting. However, it can help us to focus the party plans to help provide learning opportunity even when our children are experiencing their favourite day of the year- their birthday!