“How” is My Child Smart?

There Are Many Ways to Learn and Be Smart

There is an important difference between the question “Is my child smart?” and How is my child smart?”. The question, Is my child smart?is really asking, Is my child capable of learning?“. If the answer to this question is “yes” than the question we should be asking is “How does my child learn?”.

There are many ways to learn and be smart. How a child learns is a combination of their learning modality, learning personality, and intelligences. Their motivation for learning stems from their personal interests, talents, and skills. All these things make up who they are and how they learn.

A Learning Modality

Learning Modalities are different ways that we use our senses to gather and process information. Most of us will naturally tend to use one modality more than the others. Learning can be enhanced when multiple modalities are used together.

There are 4 basic learning modalities;

Visual (what you can see) – pictures, printed word, videos, etc.,

Auditory (what you can hear) – lectures, audio programs, repeating information out loud, dialog, music, etc.,

Tactile (what you can touch) – making a model, writing, sketching, pointing, feeling, etc.,

Kinesthetic (how you move your body) – acting something out, pacing, jumping, tapping, etc.,

Take this Quiz to find out which modality(s) you and your children naturally use (quiz by howtolearn.com).

Think about yourself and your children. What characteristics do you already notice that hint at a certain learning modality? For example some of us learn well from being read to, some of us are easily distracted by sound or movement and can’t sit still for lengthy periods of time, and some of us love to doodle.

Knowing what your preferred learning modality is will help you know how to expose yourselves to information in the most effective way for learning (read more about modality characteristics and the different ways to appeal to each modality from Ms.Dillard’s Classroom).

A Learning Personality

Each of us have a different learning personality which is our own way of being productive. According to Learning Success Institute there are 5 different learning personalities.

The Performer – likes to move, craves variety, takes risks, tends to be competitive, and likes an audience.

The Producer – likes to plan, is very logical and orderly, likes workbooks and structure and tends to be project oriented.

The Inventor – asks lots of questions, is a builder, learns by making connections or associations in their mind easily and relates information to a larger world picture.

The Inspirer – wants win-win relationships, is caring and sensitive, likes harmony and working in teams and focuses their attention on people.

The Thinking Creative – is a deep thinker, likes to express a creative interpretation rather than the details of a lesson and focuses on the ramifications of the information.

Do any of these personalities sound like you or your children? The key is to understand the unique characteristics in each personality. Can you see them as strengths? Can you find a way to use this knowledge to foster the unique potential in each person?

Is your child really ADD or are they simply a Kinesthetic Inventor? How can you tap into the power of their mind through active learning? Does your child thrive in a traditional school setting approach because they are “smarter” than your other kids or are they simply a Visual/Auditory Producer?


Intelligence is not a question of, What is my IQ? but rather, In what ways do I process information?“. According to Dr. Kathy Koch there are multiple intelligences, many different ways for our brain to integrate information.

The following is a list of the 8 different kinds of smart,

Image-smart: the ability to use visual or mental imagery to solve problems and understand information.

Body-smart: the ability to use physical movement and performance to solve problems and understand information.

Logic-smart: the capacity to analyze problems logically, detect patterns, reason deductively, and carry out mathematical operations.

Nature-smart: understanding the patterns of nature, and how to use the natural world.

Sound-smart: sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones, beats, and vibrations.  The ability to create music and rhythm to express oneself and to aid in memory.

Word-smart: ability to use language to express yourself and to remember information.

People-smart: person-to-person relating like teamwork, communication and collaboration with others.

Self-smart: understanding your feelings and having an effective image of yourself.  Being able to use that self-image to regulate your life.

Take this Profile Test to find out which Intelligence(s) you and your children commonly use (quiz by David Lazear Group).

Everybody is capable of using all eight intelligences but some of them are more dominant than others. Being aware of these different intelligences will open your mind to the many ways you can present information. It will also help you be aware of the different ways your child can make connections with what they are learning.

Interests, Talents, & Skills

What does your child love? This is the basis of their interest. What do they spend their time doing and thinking about when they don’t have to be doing or thinking about anything? What is consistently part of their imagination? It is important to know what your child’s interests are so that you can help keep them motivated for learning.  

It is also important to be aware of what your child’s talents and skills are. Yes they are different, which is why I listed them separately. Skills are not talents, yet talents require skills. It is possible to have skills in areas where you do not have talent. A skill is something anyone can learn to do with discipline and practice.  

However, everyone is born into the world with unique talents. Talents are connected to who we are as an individuals. Most of the time in order to recognize our talents we must develop the necessary skills to express them. What are your child’s unique talents? What skills do you want your child to learn? Knowing the answers to these questions will be important as you navigate your homeschool journey.


This post contains affiliate links.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *