Use Multiple Intelligences to Enhance Self-Esteem
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)?
- Children have many areas of intelligence and each child is different.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Set up mentor partnerships.