8 Great Smarts Summary

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8 Great Smarts by Kathy Koch, PhD
Discover and Nurture Your Child’s Intelligences

My Thoughts

This is a unique parenting book that I learned a lot from. It gave me a new mental model through which to view the abilities of children, and all people in general. Everyone is smart in different ways. This book does a good job of explaining this in a way that is easy to understand and apply to relationships. I highly recommend 8 Great Smarts for all parents.

They have an interesting resource for the book Career Opportunities for Each Smart (Free PDF) that I recommend checking out.

My Favorite Quotes

  • Once stretched, a balloon never goes back to its original size. The mind is the same. Things you did when you were young stretched parts of your mind and each part will be forever larger than they were. These increases are a significant reason to provide your child with a variety of experiences during all ages and stages.
  • When you share ideas with children, you expand their horizons and awaken and confirm their passions.
  • Strengths not harnessed can become weaknesses.
  • Exposing children to things is how talents and passions are discovered.

Key Questions

  • How am I smart?
  • How can I be smart with my smarts?
  • What does your child do in their spare time?

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: “How Am I Smart?” – An Introduction to the 8 Great Smarts

Dr. Howard Gardner of Harvard University was the first to introduce the theory of multiple intelligences.

The Eight Intelligences

Dr. Artmstrong’s LabelsDr. Gardner’s LabelsThink With
Word SmartLinguistic IntelligenceWords
Logic SmartLogical-Mathematical IntelligenceQuestions
Picture SmartSpatial IntelligencePictures
Music SmartMusical IntelligenceRhythm/Melodies
Body SmartBodily-Kinesthetic IntelligenceMovement/Touch
Nature SmartNaturalistic IntelligencePatterns
People SmartInterpersonal IntelligencePeople
Self-smartIntrapersonal IntelligenceReflection

Nature and nurture together determine which intelligences will interest your child. That’s where strengths always start—with interest.

When you exhibit healthy and positive attitudes and provide a variety of interesting experiences for your child, you cooperate with God in the development of his or her smarts and full potential. The nurture you provide is very important!

It’s never too late to awaken a part of the mind. And, it stays awake to our influence for many years. Our brain’s have 100 billion neurons, the cells that are the brain’s conduits of information. Connections of 80 percent of the brain’s neurons are formed by what we do prior to age twenty-five.

Once stretched, a balloon never goes back to its original size. The mind is the same. Things you did when you were young stretched parts of your mind and each part will be forever larger than they were. These increases are a significant reason to provide your child with a variety of experiences during all ages and stages.

How Can Understanding Multiple Intelligences Help Children?

  • Confidence Increases
  • Less Likely to Believe They’re “Dumb”
  • A New Way to Talk about Behavior
  • Volunteering and Career Choice
  • Five Core Needs Can Be Met

“How am I smart?” It’s no longer about the amount of intelligence but instead about which intelligences are strengths.

It is essential that children understand how important their character is. Parents who only tell their children they’re smart, and don’t also talk about the role of character, create a dangerous situation.

Teaching children to ask “How can I be smart with my smarts?” introduces the powerful idea that children can use their smarts in healthy or unhealthy ways.

The Five Core Needs of Children

  1. Security: Who can I trust?
  2. Identity: Who am I?
  3. Belonging: Who wants me?
  4. Purpose: Why am I alive?
  5. Competence: What do I do well?

By understanding multiple intelligences. rather than thinking, “Spelling is hard because I’m really stupid!” children will understand “Spelling is hard because I’m logic smart and not very picture smart.”

Knowing how they are smart empowers children’s identity.


Children who know how they are smart as part of their identity are typically more optimistic about the future.

Children listen intently when I get to talk with them about how they’ve all been created on purpose to leave the world a better place. Examples of how they can do this according to their combination of smarts always enthuses them. When you share ideas with children, you expand their horizons and awaken and confirm their passions.

How Can I Identify My Child’s Multiple Intelligence Strengths?

Your child’s smarts will usually be apparent first as interests. Look for interests first. What does your son do in his spare time?

Paying attention to how each child misbehaves can also reveal smart strengths.

Teaching your child about the smarts can help you identify them. You can observe their reactions to details and examples and note which ones pique her or his curiosity. Then ask your child to identify his or her strengths. Your child will often know and be able to provide evidence.

As children age, the top several smarts usually become obvious. In the meantime, keep using them all. But don’t do this so they all become “top smarts” as that is not realistic. Don’t try to develop them or use them all at the same time. That’s overwhelming.

If you purchase a copy of the book, they give you a password to take the 8 great smarts assessment.

Chapter 2: “I Will Be Smart with My Smarts!”

Strengths not harnessed can become weaknesses.

It’s not okay if children are misbehaving because of how they are smart. We can’t excuse their choices because they have talent and ability.

Perfectionism often shuts down smarts because it doesn’t allow children any freedom to explore and grow.

Your child needs to understand that their successes and challenges are always due to how they is smart plus how they apply themselves.

Chapter 3: I Am Word Smart: I Think with Words

Encourage your child to ask and answer questions and to share ideas learned elsewhere.

The smarts never work alone.

Careers tend to be most fulfilling when there’s a good match between the job skills and a person’s smarts. Word-smart children may want to consider careers that involve speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Small talk may be very challenging for word-smart children because they’d rather be purposeful.

Let’s Play! Games for Word-Smart Children

Chapter 4: I Am Logic Smart: I Think with Questions

Logic-Smart Children and Learning

If they’re bored, material is reviewed too often so it’s too easy, or students judge the topics or assignments as irrelevant, they can mentally check out.

Many logic-smart children like discovering things on their own.

Children will benefit from “What-if?” thinking. Statements that begin with “I wonder …” can also stimulate their curiosity and engage their logic-smart minds.

If your daughter is more logic smart than picture smart, she may struggle if you teach her to read using mostly fiction.

Because logic-smart children are natural problem solvers, mysteries might be their favorite fiction.

To study and learn best with their logic-smartness, children should ask and answer questions. Therefore, as often as you can, take advantage of children’s expressed curiosity, even when their questions appear to be off-task.

Logic-Smart Children and Relationships

  • These children may want to be right all the time.
  • They may be very good at arguing.
  • Small talk can bore or frustrate them,
  • These children also need to be careful of analyzing people rather than loving them.

Logic-Smart Children and Spiritual Growth

  • Logic-smart children will most likely appreciate God for His truth and wisdom.
  • Logic is not enough for a complete connection with God; they also need the heart’s feelings and responses
  • Logic-smart children should be told they don’t need to know everything about God in order to believe Him or to believe in Him.

Let’s Play! Games for Logic-Smart Children

Chapter 5: I Am Picture Smart: I Think with Pictures

All picture-smart children can see and design in their minds.

Some of us need to make a conscious choice to think with our eyes. The word “choosing” is a key.

Learning Struggles: Help Them Focus

When children intentionally use more than one intelligence, their learning will almost always be more accurate and they will retain information longer.

Times Tables the Fun Way” successfully uses stories and pictures to teach math facts.

Teaching the Picture-Smart Child: Watching and Creating

A quick way to paralyze the picture smart is to ask, while looking at a picture, “What is that?” Rather, when we’re unsure, we can learn to say “Tell me about your picture.”

Just like adults, children benefit from having a variety of friends.

Help your child understand that different ways of approaching tasks is different, not wrong.

Let’s Play! Games for Picture-Smart Children

Chapter 6: I Am Music Smart: I Think with Rhythms and Melodies

When considering intelligences, ability must be factored in.

Does interest always foster talent? No.

A question to consider: If my children indicate sincere interest, am I available to help with decision-making that results in ability gains?

Let’s Play! Games for Music-Smart Children

Chapter 7: I Am Body Smart: I Think with Movement and Touch

When they’re excited, they move more.

Body-smart children are often moving—sometimes purposefully and intentionally, sometimes not. This is because when body-smart children are excited, they can’t help but move.

Choose to see his or her physical energy and the ways he or she embraces life through touch and action as strengths.

Learning Matters: Sports, Drama, and More

How are you and your child doing in areas such as balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, endurance, reflexes, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination?

These children may do better sculpting with clay while picture-smart children may do better painting with acrylics.

Exposing children to things is how talents and passions are discovered.

Putting down electronic devices and going outside can strengthen this smart.

Sometimes the very chores we don’t think to assign to our children because they’ll be hard are the very ones they should do.

When these children are allowed to move purposefully, they’ll have less need to move in disruptive ways.

Body-smart children think and learn by touching.

It’s possible that body-smart children will be most accepted by other children who move frequently. I notice that those who move and touch a lot often have best friends who are just like them.

Let’s Play! Games for Body-Smart Children

  • Play tag or any outdoor game
  • Play Twister

Chapter 8: I Am Nature Smart: I Think with Patterns

Nature-smart children think with patterns. When they are excited, they want to go outside. Their power is observing patterns.

As with other intelligences, there’s a hierarchy of giftedness within nature smart.

Avoid trying to determine children’s intelligence strengths based on isolated incidents and brief exposure.

If your child asks a question and it seems out of character, it may be your opportunity to awaken that smart. In other words, if you had been driving the car and your child had asked, “What are the deer doing here?” you could have taken the time to help him or her find the answer. You could have asked what other questions your child had.

As with other smarts, nature-smart children will benefit from knowing that their abilities with plants, animals, and the out-of-doors spring from a part of their mind. They can be deeply encouraged to learn that they’re not just good with animals and plants but they’re smart because of that!

Some children who struggle with logic-smart sciences like chemistry and physics can be very successful at nature-smart sciences like biology, earth science, and oceanography. That’s why we shouldn’t allow children to believe or say they’re not good at science. That’s too general a statement. Your child may have struggled with logic-smart general science but aced biology.

Smarts can do more than help children understand academics. They can also help children learn about and process emotions.

You can strengthen children’s nature smart by helping them see details in their environments and in animals and plants.

Teach your child how to compare, contrast, and categorize.

Be alert to teachable moments. With all the smarts, these can be the best ways to awaken and strengthen children’s intelligences.

Because these children naturally look for patterns and notice similarities and differences, they’ll enjoy using microscopes, binoculars, and magnifying glasses.

Let’s Play! Games for Nature-Smart Children

Chapter 9: I Am People Smart: I Think with People

People-smart children think with people. When they’re excited, they talk more to more people. They need people to listen to them, interact with them, and react to their ideas. They get joy from sharing what they know and from understanding people. Thinking by connecting is their power.

At the high end of the people-smart hierarchy is the child who can accurately discern someone’s mood, intention, and desire as well as respond appropriately.

The opposite are children who walk right up to you and are clueless about your mood. They may begin to tell you about their day, not noticing you’re deep in thought.

The abilities of children to read and respond well to facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice are among the important reasons to awaken this smart early.

We were created to make a positive difference in the world. To leave the world a better place. To solve problems. To love well. Because it’s virtually impossible to do any of this consistently well without people-smart abilities, this intelligence is valuable to learning.

Children without people-smart strengths can also have this intelligence stretched and improved when they’re placed in safe small groups.

People-smart children benefit when leaders and parents understand they talk when they get excited. They often talk to peers, even when they shouldn’t (such as in the middle of class).

Their interactions express high energy; connection is the source of their power.

People-smart children tend to make friends easily, partly because they understand people.

Other children may want to be friends with your people-smart daughter because of her natural leadership gifts and willingness and ability to express compassion.

People-smart children can build consensus and increase peace.

One of the most important things to remember about people-smart children is that they think best when bouncing ideas back and forth. So to increase their trust in you, talk with them rather than at them.

Let’s Play! Games for People-Smart Children

Chapter 10: I Am Self Smart: I Think with Reflection

Self-smart children think with reflection deeply inside of themselves and relate learning to their lives. When they’re excited, they want to spend time by themselves thinking more.

They get joy from knowing what they know. Their power is reflection and the knowing that comes from it.

When studying and learning, self-smart children want to understand things in depth.

Self-smart children tend to be quiet, independent workers and thinkers.

Self-smart children know themselves well. They know their strengths and weaknesses.

Self-smart children often have excellent insights because of their deep-and-wide thinking.

To help children go deep and wrestle with their own thoughts, you can provide questions that direct their thinking.

School can be uncomfortable for these children because they’re regularly required to share their ideas with others.

Because these children prefer to study alone, your desire to interact with them can create conflict.

Their grades may not always reflect their true knowledge or abilities.

Self-smart children like choices and options.

Many self-smart children appear to be shy and quiet, especially when they’re in crowds or with a new group of peers.

These children need you to help them find friends rather than just telling them to have friends.

Self-smart children usually think of themselves and their own ideas before they think of others. And they think deeply inside of themselves about those ideas so they’re often quiet even when in groups.

Asking your children for their thoughts and recommendations also honors them.

Self-smart children can be very independent and are often content being alone. Therefore, they can become self-centered.

Many self-smart children value self-discipline. They develop high standards for themselves. When they make mistakes or “mess up,” they can be very hard on themselves. Being critical, coupled with being alone and not seeking other people’s input, can result in hopelessness and fear.

There may be no more important smart combination to understand than the people-smart/self-smart combination. Any who have both of these in their top four may live in an almost constant state of internal stress and confusion.

Let’s Play! Games for Self-Smart Children

  • Play quiet games together that your child chooses, such as a puzzle, coloring, building with Legos, playing with dolls, or playing a car game like “Who am I?”

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