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Multiple Intelligence and Your Child’s Life Success

“There’s more to being smart than an I.Q. test score!”- Dr Branton Shearer

Recently a number of young Singaporeans rose to prominence on the world stage:

–        Joseph Schooling with his Olympic gold medal

–        Yap Xiu Pin’s additions to her Paralympic gold medal tally

–        Nathan Hartono with his second placing in a very competitive singing competition in China

–        Seetoh Sheng who is best known for his design of the dinosaur pouch that our First Lady brought along on her White House visit

–        Kenneth Sng who made the opening remarks ahead of the 2nd US presidential election debate.

They couldn’t be more different.  And yet…

What do they all have in common?

In their own ways, each of them has identified their unique strengths and built on these passionately.  They are inspirational examples of how young people can succeed phenomenally, overcoming various challenges along the way.

Many of them discovered their passion at a young age, and most had strong parental support.  Joseph Schooling knew at 4 years old that he would like to pursue swimming.  At 8 years old, he was asking his dad to send him to 5am swim practices. At 21, Joseph’s hard work paid off, with him winning Singapore’s first ever Olympic gold medal.  Similarly, Seetoh Sheng had been fascinated by dinosaurs when he was 3 years old and progressed from sculpting dinosaur figures out of blue-tack to eventually designing his globally popular dinosaur pouch.


What we can learn from their paths to success?

There are many ways a person can be considered “smart”.  If we measure intelligence with a single IQ test, some of these young winners may not have been considered successful.

Dr Howard Gardner is the Harvard professor who first wrote about Multiple Intelligence. His globally acclaimed research showed that there are multiple types of human intelligence, each representing different ways of processing information. These are known as the 8 Smarts:

MI Diagram

Word Smart (Linguistic) – Competence in reading, writing, using language to express complex meanings, and to effectively persuade

Logic Smart (Math-Logic) – Competence in thinking of cause and effect connections, understanding relationships of actions, objects or ideas and solving math problems at school and in daily life

People Smart (Interpersonal) – Competence in understanding and communicating with others, working well with people and having social sensitivity

Self Smart (Intrapersonal) – Competence in understanding oneself, self-regulating emotions and having the ability for meta-cognition (thinking about thinking)

Body Smart (Kinesthetic) – Competence in using the body in skilled ways for expressive and goal-directed activities, including in athletic pursuits and using fine motor skills

Picture Smart (Spatial) – Competence in thinking in pictures, visualizing the physical world and in artistic design

Music Smart (Musical) – Competence with sounds, rhythms, melodies and rhymes in various forms, including vocally, with instruments and music composition, as well as general music appreciation

Nature Smart (Naturalist) – Competence in understanding the natural world, including plants, animals and scientific studies

Here’s what a satisfied parent says about Multiple Intelligence and how it has helped her children.

multiple intelligence


Here are 7 ways you can apply the award-winning research on Multiple Intelligence to maximize your child’s potential,

  1. Be aware of each child’s unique interests. The Abridged Multiple Intelligence Developmental Assessment Scales (“Abridged MIDAS”) is a great tool to help you get started on better understanding your child’s natural preferences.  Strengths usually are built upon these natural preferences.
  1. Understand that there is “no one size” fits all solution to imparting knowledge. The summary that comes along with your Abridged MIDAS results provides a useful framework to think about the different ways that information can be presented.  Notably, it fleshes out how some of our tastes and interests can influence how we take in information.
  1. Do not label your child. It is important to avoid taking the MIDAS results to label people as naturalist learners, musical learners, logical learners and so on.  Labeling creates limits, and when it comes to learning, you wouldn’t want to be unknowingly restricting your child’s potential.
  1. Refine your own understanding on Multiple Intelligence, so you can help your child customize his/ her own path in life. While the Abridged MIDAS provides a quick start, it measures interests rather than ability.  Also, its results show up in terms of the 8 Smarts, whereas the full MIDAS further breaks down each Smart into sub-scales.  For example, an actor, athlete and surgeon all need to have a reasonably good degree of Body Smarts, but in different Body Smart sub-scales.  MIDAS is now available for sale at a 30% discount here (UP: $50).
  1. Design learning activities which play to your child’s learning styles. There are different contexts in which your child can enhance his/ her learning and engaging a variety of their senses could help — for example, learning about fractions through musical notes, flower petals, and poetic meter. Do subscribe to the Flying Cape Multiple Intelligence mailing list to benefit from our Multiple Intelligence Flash Tips.

  1. Choose enrichment classes based on your child’s Multiple Intelligence strengths or weaknesses. You can also try out recommended classes using our All-You-Can Learn Class buffet package. We aim to narrow the gap for you through our personalised recommendations but you are the best judge. Your feedback improves the algorithm for future recommendation.
  1. Help your child be a “T” person. Let your little one try out a wide range of activities for exposure (the horizontal part of the “T”), and then also go deep into a particular area of expertise (the vertical part of the “T”).  The exposure helps your child to try out a broad spectrum of activities.  This helps your child develop interest in a wider range of activities and aids in learning agility.  The specialization provides the opportunity your child to excel in his/ her chosen field.

Tip: To encourage parents to let their children try out a class they ordinarily won’t think of, Flying Cape has designed an All-you-can-Learn Buffet (“ALB”).  At only $99 for 5 classes, or $75 for 3 classes, and literally hundreds of classes to choose from, this is a great way for your children to learn.

All you can Learn Buffet

This is not about keeping up with the Tans, Alis and Muthus.  Your child is unique and can carve out his/ her unique path in life.  Multiple Intelligence, particularly when we consider the specific combinations of interests and skills, serves as a useful guide for that process. There is no need to compare with what others are doing but rather the focus must be on helping your child reach his/ her unique potential, whatever that may be.


About Flying Cape

 Flying Cape is a booking website for tuition and enrichment classes. Instead of having parents rushing out to do their own research, we aim to help parents apply the award-winning research on Multiple Intelligence so that we can jointly enhance the learning experience for students. We do this by working with experienced educators and advisers to do so.  For instance, the personalized recommendations engine we will be rolling out soon is based on research reviewed by Dr Branton – the man powering MIDAS, and we are honoured to be working closely with him.

Or in other words, we bring you from Research to Results.

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