How intelligent is your toddler?

Even if your toddler looks blank when you try to talk ABCs, she may still be a little brainbox. Intelligence comes in many shapes and sizes

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  • Do you know how intelligent your little one really is? While she’s only just beginning to learn reading, writing and arithmetic skills, many researchers think there’s a lot more to intelligence than high IQ scores and mastering the ‘three Rs’. Intelligence is now seen as a range of different capabilities, known as ‘multiple intelligences’.

    “Try thinking about intelligence as a set of eight different skill areas – we all have these, but our abilities vary within each area,” explains Dr Halit Hulusi, Senior Educational Psychologist with Birmingham Educational Psychology Service.

    Having eight different skill areas means there are plenty of ways to boost your toddler’s all-round intelligence. 

    “The great thing is that all these intelligences can be developed,” explains Dr Hulusi. “Of course, not everyone is going to be brilliant at everything, but you can help your child achieve his full potential in each intelligence area.”

    Read on to find out the 8 types of intelligence…

  • 1. Word smart

    What does it mean?

    • Also known as linguistic intelligence, this skill is about being good at reading and writing. If your toddler enjoys talking and expresses himself well, he’s likely to be word smart.


    Brain training game

    • “Try playing ‘I spy’ games in the car using colours or shapes 
if your child doesn’t have his initial letter sounds yet,” says Dr Hulusi. “It’s a great way to develop these skills and passes time if you’re stuck in traffic!”


    Could grow up to be?

    • A writer or lawyer.


    Try this now!

    • Sit down with your child and take turns talking about what you’ve done today.


    Word smart celebrity

    • J K Rowling
  • 2. Number smart

    What does it mean?

    • Number smart people approach situations in a logical way. They enjoy number challenges and are good at problem solving.


    Brain training game

    • “Maths is everywhere, so get counting – fingers, toes, people – anything!” says Dr Hulusi. “Draw your child’s attention to the numbers and patterns that are all around him. Use coloured beads to make simple patterns your child can copy.”


    Could grow up to be?

    •  A scientist, doctor or economist.


    Try this now!

    • Raid the cupboards and encourage him to set up a pretend shop.


    Number smart celebrity

  • 3. Picture smart

    What does it mean?

    • This is about having good spatial intelligence and the ability to make sense of the world through pictures.


    Brain training game

    • “Let your toddler experiment with different ways of making pictures,” suggests Dr Hulusi. “Let him try chalk, soft dough, paint or crayons with a range of tools such as brushes, scissors, feet and hands and even vegetables to print with. Get your little one chatting about texture, colour and size.”


    Could grow up to be?

    • An artist or engineer.


    Try this now!

    • Choose a picture together from a magazine, cut it up and get your tot to put it together again.


    Picture smart celebrity

    • Damien Hurst
  • Continue slideshow >

  • 4. Music smart

    What does it mean?

    • Music smart people are sensitive to sounds, musical structures and rhythms. They may be good at singing or playing a musical instrument.


    Brain training game

    • “Encourage your child to recognise and respond to everyday household sounds like the door bell or the phone ringing,” says Dr Hulusi. “Play clapping games – see if your little one can repeat a pattern you’ve clapped, or get him to make up a pattern for you to copy.”


    Could grow up to be?

    • A composer or X Factor finalist.


    Try this now!

    • Make instruments out of things around the house – a wooden spoon and plastic bowl make a great drum kit. Feeling ambitious? Start an orchestra!


    Music smart celebrity

    • Myleene Klass
  • 5. Body smart

    What does it mean?


    Brain training game

    • “Children’s attitudes to fitness are set through early experience,” advises Dr Hulusi. “Take your child swimming or join a parent-and-toddler class. Visit a local soft-play area – great for developing confidence in climbing, swinging, crawling and jumping.”


    Could grow up to be?

    •  A dancer, athlete or surgeon.


    Try this now!

    • Choose music your child likes and work out a simple dance routine together including claps, kicks and twirls.


    Body smart celebrity

    • David Beckham
  • 6. People smart

    What does it mean?


    Brain training game

    • “Children aren’t always able to name emotions,” says Dr Hulusi. “You can help him by talking about your own feelings, or those of others. For example, ‘Do you know Gran’s not feeling well today? Let’s be extra nice to her.’”


    Could grow up to be?

    • A school teacher or politician.


    Try this now!

    • Try reading a favourite book together. Discuss how the characters in the story might be feeling and why.


    People smart celebrity

    • Barack Obama
  • 7. Self smart

    What does it mean?

    • Intrapersonal intelligence is different to being people smart. It’s about being highly aware of personal strengths and weaknesses and being able to understand yourself.


    Brain training game

    • “Your little one needs support in making sense of his emotions,” says Dr Hulusi. “Try to link the behaviour you’re seeing to the emotion he’s displaying and the event that might have triggered it. For example, ‘You’re stamping your feet because you’re angry that your brother took your train away.’”


    Could grow up to be?

    • An entrepreneur or philosopher.


    Try this now!

    • Draw a picture of how you’re feeling. Ask your child to do the same. Swap pictures and discuss them.


    Self smart celebrity

    • Richard Branson
  • Continue slideshow >

  • 8. Nature smart

    What does it mean?

    • This is about being sensitive towards the natural world and having an ability to nurture things.


    Brain training game

    •  “Cress grows quickly and teaches children about what plants need to survive,” explains Dr Hulusi. “If you’re lucky enough to have space, give your child an area outdoors to grow his own plants or flowers from seeds.”


    Could grow up to be?

    •  A scientist or conservationist.


    Try it now!

    • Take a walk in the local park, woods or on the beach together – see what you can find.


    Nature smart celebrity

    • Michaela Strachan

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