Multiple intelligences were identified by Howard Gardner. We think with them and use them to express ourselves. One of them is spatial intelligence, or picture smart. When using this intelligence, children think with their eyes, in visuals. When they're excited, they add to the pictures they're making in their minds or drawing on paper. In this article I'll address issues of our behavior and how to be smart with our picture-smart abilities.
Picture-smart children may have a hard time listening when teachers talk a lot. Students’ minds may wander since they think with their eyes more than with their ears. Boredom often sets in, causing their misbehavior to increase. They may doodle and distract others with it. They may get out of their seat, not even realizing the teacher is talking. Obviously, this behavior will be considered rude and will negatively influence teachers’ opinions of these students.
Teachers can use rich adjectives and active verbs to help children paint pictures in their minds while they listen. Then, as they describe a battlefield, they can ask children what they see. This will increase students’ involvement. Therefore, they'll be more attentive and behaved.
Sometimes picture-smart students get into trouble because of their keen sense of humor. They put words together to create pictures you didn't necessarily expect them to see. Laughter that appears to be inappropriate or over-the-top may result. When I've talked with kids and teens about this phenomenon, they're often surprised to know they're not alone, but that many classmates draw pictures in their minds. They also seem surprised and pleased that I know that about them. They're honored when I respond to their laughter with the question, “What did you just see?" My favorite response was from a young boy: “Did you see it, too?" That's how vibrant his mind-picture was!
Their humor and visual creativity can make these students good at drama. Although this can enhance their learning and joy, it can also lead to misbehavior. I think most “drama queens" are picture smart. They're probably body smart, too.
Picture-smart children need to guard their eyes because that's where their curiosity begins. They can sin by looking at what they shouldn't. From there, a downward behavior spiral can develop.
Judging people and things based only on appearance can be another tendency of children with picture-smart strengths. This “judging a book by its cover" usually doesn't result in a fair assessment.
Here's another potential trap. Their visual strengths allow picture-smart children to see details. If they have a critical or negative bent, they may be eager to point out visual mistakes in someone's appearance or school project. If they do this enough that it becomes an earned reputation, their relationships will be negatively affected. This, in turn, will negatively affect their behavior.
Picture-smart children can choose to use their picture-smart abilities for good. We can help them. They can join decorating committees for school dances, work on illustrating the yearbook, help teachers put up bulletin boards, and help to display art projects or trophies on shelves in glass cases. They can learn to doodle without distracting others and to use it to help them pay attention.
To help you determine if picture smart is your strength or your child's strength, I invite you to download a free guide here: http://www.celebratekids.com/infocollect1.html From Kathy Koch, Ph. D. , ("cook"), Celebrate Kids, Inc.