Use Multiple Intelligences to Enhance Self-Esteem

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Part three in a three-part series on MI

While often overlooked in children's learning, self-esteem affects many important areas of children's lives. Research shows that what children actually do both in school and in life is influenced by self-esteem. Self-esteem impacts areas such as:

  • children's motivation and performance in school and sports.
  • the quality of peer relationships.
  • the ability to persevere with tasks.
  • the capacity to bounce back from adversity or failure.

Children with high self-esteem tend to view success as determined largely by their own efforts and abilities. Children with low self-esteem believe that any success they have is based solely on luck, chance, or other things that are outside their control.

So, what can a teacher do to nurture positive self-esteem by keying in to their "Multiple Intelligences"(MI)?

  1. Children have many areas of intelligence and each child is different.
  2. Every learner possesses at least one island of competence. Take a good look at each student. Every child has inborn abilities and strengths, areas that can potentially be sources of pride and accomplishment.
  3. Use strengths to help weaknesses.
    • Reinforcing areas of natural strength gives students a positive sense of accomplishment.
    • Emphasizing strengths also maximizes the possibility that students will view successes as based on their own resources and efforts.
    • By directing students toward activities that build on their natural strengths, you can create a "ripple effect" where children may try challenges in areas that are not as natural or easy for them. For example, a child whose artistic talents are recognized and encouraged may be able to extend these skills into a weaker area, perhaps reading, when given an opportunity such as writing and illustrating personalized stories.
  4. Create a classroom for learning success. Here are two specific ideas to help you create an environment that maximizes the possibility that children will succeed:
    • Set up mentor partnerships.
      • Form pairs of students to work together, while trying to match students with different learning styles. A good combination would be to match a student strong in verbal skills with a student strong in mathematical or visual/spatial skills.
      • After the pairs have completed the assigned work, have them work together to develop two or three new problems that they can later present to their classmates as "challenges."
    • Teach thematic units with an MI approach.
      • When teaching thematic units, offer a variety of assignments that touch on different intelligences. Some students may be willing to "stretch" themselves and try projects in areas that are not necessarily their strengths.
      • When using an MI approach with your thematic unit, you might consider implementing it in various ways:
        • Make one or two activities mandatory, then assign point values to the others and let students attempt the number of projects they would like that add up to a minimum total point value.
        • Assign point values to activities and total point values for letter grades; then students can decide if they want to attempt more activities to get a higher grade.
        • Allow students to choose any three or four projects they would like to do. The following is an example:

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