A Multiple Intelligence Lifestyle

Exposure Blossoms Curiosity,Curiosity Blossoms Exposure

Monday, February 28, 2011

Linguistic Intelligence

As you read this, you are using your linguistic intelligence.  A human’s linguistic intelligence revolves around the spoken or written word. The attributes of this intelligence involve how we process language and words. If a person’s intelligence is dominated by the strengths of this form they enjoy reading and/or writing-and usually learned these skills with ease, memorization of words and dates is also done with ease, their storytelling abilities are entertaining, discussion and debate are enjoyed, and yes, crosswords and word searches are probably a favorite pastime.

In my seven years of teaching, I taught kindergarten or first grade for 5 of these years. Every child entered my classroom with varying linguistic skills. I observed most of the variations were directly linked to their early home experiences.

Only once have I had a student enter my classroom as a developed, fluent reader; she was only in kindergarten. After discussion with the family, we concluded she taught herself to read around the age of 4. Her household consisted only of adults and a teenage sibling. Everyone was always reading around her and, of course, to her (NO- they didn’t watch “my baby can read” or do daily practices with flashcards). Her dad told me one morning she came downstairs and said, “Let me read to you.”  At that point, she read every book she got her hands on! I’m telling this story for three reasons: One being, this student is what I call “highly linguistic”. Two being, “highly linguistic” people are rare. Three, the most important step in linguistic development (or any sort of mental development) is EXPOSURE!

To develop a new skill (or a skill one may be struggling with) exposure and modeling without immediate expectation, is the first important step a grown-up can do for their child or student!

Exposure can start the day a child is born. We started reading to Lil’ Em the day she was born because I believe so strongly in exposure. Book time quickly became a favorite part of her day. During floor time, I made sure to have around plenty of board books and soft books for her to grasp, chew on, or whatever else she fancied.  Certain books quickly became Em’s favorites. For keepsake purposes, we still have a pop-up book that she tore every creature out of; Tape just couldn’t help us anymore. 

As I exposed Em to books, the kindergarten teacher in me couldn’t help but point my finger at the words. I didn’t do this all the time, but I did do it frequently. As a toddler, she developed the habit to point at the pictures and words as she looked at books.

Now that she is 3&1/2 and has developed an interest in letter learning, I can really see the benefits to this action paying off. She insists on pointing at letters and saying their names. The teacher in me is thinking “wow, she is already tracking print!” Early reading skills are already in place and I didn’t even “drill” this into her. I just consistently exposed and modeled the process, and she naturally developed the skill.

The same can happen with early writing skills. Now that Lil’ Em has become interested in writing (please notice I waited until she was interested), I have stepped up my writing modeling and exposure.  Last summer Em started drawing pictures and telling me what they were. I used this as a learning opportunity. When she told me what the drawing was, I wrote the word on the picture. As I wrote the word I always said the name of each letter as I wrote it. I then went back and pointed at each letter and said the name. I conclude by pointing at the word one last time and say the word. Here are a few examples:

I am always writing out grocery lists. One day as I did this, Emery made her own lists too! These were done on post-it notes...which,along with a marker, are a great thing to have laying around within a toddler's reach. To help curb the natural desire of a toddler to write all over everything, I have always constructed my daughter's tendency with these kind words, "we write on paper"; For the most part she has stuck to it. 

Currently, Em’s curiosity about letters, reading, and writing has kicked into full gear (I admit part of this is from playing a letter Elmo game on the Wii)! I refuse to bring out the flashcards! Instead we use real-life experiences; Em is always observing road signs, words on packages, and labels at school.  For example, at Christmas time we had a calendar up with the words, HO, HO, HO. She asked me what it said. I told her. She then counted the letters and pointed at each one and said their name. After that she asked me how to spell her own name.  I grabbed a piece of paper and started modeling. After her name was spelled she actually attempted to write her first capital E!!  After this she wanted me to write out the names of family members and friends. She even attempted writing a capital B! This is a picture of our paper.

My point to all this, is go with your child’s curiosity! If you expose them, curiosity will develop. When curiosity develops, keep exposure alive with modeling! Trust me, as you model, your child is learning!! Here is another writing example from Em.  This is a self-portrait she created on her own with no prompting from me.  Afterwards, she asked me to write her name since it was her.

 A parent is a child’s first teacher. I whole-heartedly believe early childhood lays the foundation of a lifetime of learning. The toddler years need constant exposure and modeling. Exposure and modeling are the building blocks of learning.

I found this tonight :) A love for literacy is lifelong!
~Much Love,
M.I. Mama
*The approach I use to model writing, I learned when I was a classroom teacher. This approach is based on the works of Fountas and Pinnel’s Interactive Writing Program and Guided Reading. I recommend their work to all teachers. 
*If you are a parent or teacher to an older child, modeling still is powerful. When I taught a 4/5/6 mixed age class, I had a student who was ADD and dyslexic. He didn’t learn to read until the 2nd grade.  When I met him, his reading comprehension was off the charts, although his decoding skills still remained a struggle. When I discussed this with the family, I learned in the younger grades this child extremely struggled with learning to read. Due to this, his mother would listen to books on tape that she acquired at the local library. They had a long drive to school so she used this time as an opportunity to model reading comprehension. She thought, well my son may not read words yet, but he can understand them.  When this student was in my class as a 12 year old, he told me how he still enjoyed his car rides home, and sometimes couldn’t wait to find out what happened next!


  1. I wanted to stop by and say thank you for your comment on my blog and to see what you were writing about! How great to find someone blogging about Multiple Intelligences. And I love this post...you give some excellent ideas for encouraging kids to develop a love of reading & writing. How funny that we were writing about such a similar topic!
    Looking forward to reading more from you.

  2. You are very welcome! I love reading your stuff!!