Targeting the Multiple Intelligences in the Preschool and Elementary Spanish Classroom

In our previous blog post we explained the theory of multiple intelligences and listed what the individual intelligences are. Now we are going to examine how you can use the theory of multiple intelligences to help you teach, assess, and communicate with parents in the preschool and elementary Spanish classroom.

While some children may have different strengths than others, all children possess all of the intelligences described in the theory of multiple intelligences. Further, none of the intelligences exists in a vacuum. In the preschool and elementary Spanish classroom, students use multiple intelligences while performing each activity; for example, partner dancing to a Spanish song requires bodily/kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and linguistic intelligences.

Between the ages of three and six, some of the intelligences are more developed than others; for example, linguistic intelligence emerges strongly in early childhood while mathematical intelligence doesn’t peak until late adolescence. Recognizing the emergence of a particular set of intelligences can be a valuable teaching tool. A teacher can draw on the strength of one intelligence in a student to help develop another. For example, if a teacher identifies a well-developed bodily/kinesthetic intelligence in a student, she can use physically oriented activities to help develop linguistic intelligence in that student. If a teacher recognizes a strong interpersonal intelligence in a a student, she can encourage that student to help lead in group activities. By varying the activities within a lesson, teachers can not only keep students engaged but also exercise students’ developing intelligences. This is why we have always designed our Sonrisas Spanish School curricula to include a variety of activities that address all of the multiple intelligences. The idea being that at some point in the lesson, each student will have an opportunity to exercise his or her strengths. 

Understanding and using the theory of multiple intelligences in the preschool and elementary Spanish classroom can also help teachers assess student progress and communicate effectively with parents. For example, there may be a student in the classroom who is very quiet during songs and often stands and watches when the rest of the class is dancing. When there is a question/answer session in Spanish, this student may never speak up. However, when it’s Story Time, this student’s eyes may light up with interest. When she is asked about a picture in the book, for example “¿Dónde está el gato?,” she points to the cat without hesitation. In our experience, scenarios like this one are common—we have recognized in children like her a strong spatial intelligence. And when it’s time to communicate with parents about their child’s progress, this recognition has enabled us to focus on strengths rather than weaknesses. We may write to the parent, “Emma exhibits a well-developed spatial intelligence. She loves to look at the pictures when stories are read and she demonstrates a strong understanding of Spanish vocabulary in the context of the story illustrations.”

Another common scenario is the student who daydreams during Story Time and quickly learns the phrase “No sé” in response to direct questions. During Circle Time, however, this student sings like a bird, quickly and easily memorizing complicated songs, poems, and dances. This student has begun to favor both bodily/kinesthetic and musical intelligences. Again, when communicating with this student’s parents, the recognition of these intelligences at work in the classroom has enabled us to focus on the student’s strengths.

Sonrisas Spanish Schoolcreates, publishes, and sells preschool and elementary Spanish curriculum and Spanish music for children. The Sonrisas curriculum can be used to teach preschool, elementary, and home school Spanish. Currently, our Spanish language curriculum for kids is being used nationwide to teach Spanish to children.

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