Ever since Howard Gardner outlined the Theory of Multiple Intelligences in 1983, its popularity grew steadily, although (like any other theory out there) it also received some criticism. Today, many educators across the globe have adopted the MI and use it successfully in their classrooms.
Gardner identified 8 types of intelligences and suggested that each individual possesses one or two dominant such abilities. The individual will learn easily and get to understand the world better through that particular intelligence.
For educators, this means that they have to get to know their students and their abilities and design the lessons so that they incorporate activities for each intelligence. It is no easy task but it is worth it considering that each child is unique and deserves to be given the chance to learn in a way that is natural and comfortable for them.
Here, at What Does Mamma Say, we are supporters of the MI and have written extensively about it. You can take a look at previously published articles here.
Today, we are going to tackle the Interpersonal Intelligence aka people smart intelligence. Gardner identified a bigger category called the Personal Intelligence which includes two abilities: Intrapersonal Intelligence and Interpersonal Intelligence. Because of their close association, they are often linked together, however, they are different.
In this article, you are going to discover some of the interpersonal intelligence characteristics and how you can identify a person with this type of ability, interpersonal intelligence activities, tips on how to teach kids with interpersonal intelligence and more.
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What is Interpersonal Intelligence?
If INTRApersonal intelligence is a person’s ability to “look inwards”, self-reflect and get to know oneself well, INTERpersonal intelligence (or “people smart” intelligence) is the opposite.
An interpersonal intelligence definition would be one’s ability to successfully relate with others and manage their relationships with others very well. They have the ability to understand the people around them and interact with them appropriately. Individuals that display interpersonal intelligence characteristics are adept at picking up others’ emotions, moods, traits and intentions which enable them to tailor the way that they will interact with a person.
Generally, an individual with strong interpersonal intelligence shows empathy, compassion, objectivity and kindness when dealing with those around them. Thinking about it, these are all traits of a good leader.
In fact, some good careers for interpersonal intelligence may be politician, teacher, social worker, priest, manager, nurse, counsellor, psychologist, entrepreneur, coach, sales-person etc.
What are some characteristics of Interpersonal Intelligence?
How can you know if your kid(s) or students have interpersonal intelligence? People with this type of ability display some of these characteristics:
– They are skilled at verbal and non-verbal communication
– Great organizers
– Able to see things from other’s perspective
– Good leaders
– Form meaningful relationships easily
– Able to resolve conflicts in groups
– They prefer group work to individual work
– They like teaching/mentoring others
– They usually stand out in a crowd
– Good listeners
Interpersonal Intelligence Activities for Kids
Even though some children are born with high interpersonal intelligence, it doesn’t mean that those without this ability cannot learn it. Interpersonal intelligence is a skill and like any other skill, it can be learnt and refined through practice.
Thus, these interpersonal intelligence activities will benefit both the children who have this intelligence innately and also those who want to develop it.
1. Working in groups
A great way to allow “people smart” students to shine is by allowing them to work in groups. They will have the chance to stand out, take charge and give their opinion as needed.
Another benefit of group work for students with interpersonal intelligence is that they will help their shier colleagues.
2. Role-playing activities
You can never go wrong with role-playing when it comes to interpersonal children. They will love the opportunity to take centre stage and shine. Whether they act out a story, a situation or a historical event, this type of activity will certainly be right up the alley.
3. Teaching/Tutoring peers
Kids with this type of intelligence love helping others so being in a position where they can tutor a colleague or friend will be a good way of using their skills.
Not to mention that this activity will be beneficial for both parties involved. The “students” will most likely understand the lesson better (as we know kids tend to comprehend concepts easier when explained by a peer) and the “tutor” will get to learn the lesson as well when explaining it to someone else.
4. Playing Board Games
Board games are a fantastic teaching tool not to mention extremely fun. Using board games will benefit kids with various abilities, for example, students with logical-mathematical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic or verbal linguistic learners.
Interpersonal learners will love cooperative board games or those in which they get to use their leadership skills.
A few board games for interpersonal kids are:
Castle Panic (for slightly older kids- they suggest 10+)
Outfoxed (ages 5+)
Baby Dinosaur Rescue (ages 4+)
Race to the Treasure (ages 5+)
Hoot Owl Hoot! (ages 4+)
5. Conducting interviews
Interpersonal learners love interacting with others so an activity like conducting interviews, polls or surveys is something that they would benefit from and enjoy.
6. Being part of an academic/sports club
Kids with interpersonal intelligence are natural leaders and like the company of others. This is why joining a team or an academic club is a good idea.
Depending on the child’s passions it can be anything like a football team, dance club, drama club or science club. The idea is that “people smart” kids will prefer clubs/teams that involve interacting with others rather than working alone.
7. Volunteer work
Volunteering is a great activity to encourage kids to undertake as they learn compassion, and new skills, they meet new people, they get a real sense of achievement and be part of the community. This kind of work is especially beneficial for kids with interpersonal intelligence and they love to help and be involved in an activity that has a positive impact on the community.
8. Video Games involving teamwork
Even though we try to limit the amount of time our kids spend in front of screens, we can’t deny that video games have some benefits. “People smart” kids will be drawn to video games that involve teamwork and a community like the online multiplayer type of games for example.
Team-based games are excellent for players to learn how to collaborate for the same goal.
9. Presenting opinion-based essays
Writing and presenting an opinion-based essay is an interpersonal intelligence activity that will allow children to not only refine their verbal and written skills but also to form an opinion by analyzing and evaluating facts.
This can be an individual activity and then presented in front of the class or a group effort which will be even more beneficial for an interpersonal learner.
Tips on teaching kids with interpersonal intelligence
Considering that kids with this type of intelligence love working in groups or pairs rather than studying alone, make sure that you organize plenty of team projects, peer-to-peer work and the opportunity for students to present their work out loud.
If you are a homeschooling parent, allow your child to present his/her work in front of the whole family or friends and take the time to do some activities together.
For example, some mathematical concepts, like addition, subtraction and number recognition, can be taught through cooking. Allow them to read the recipe and measure out the ingredients together with you. It is a great way to practice maths not to mention that you’ll have something delicious to share afterwards.
When teaching History, encourage the interpersonal learners to imagine a conversation between two historical figures (for example, Nixon and Churchill or Christofer Columbus and Salinger) and act it out.
For Geography, have your child/children make a presentation using maps and charts about a certain country or region. Another great thing to do is to use Google Maps to explore the land that they are learning about.
Teaching Science gives you the perfect opportunity for some fun experiments together with friends.
Another way to help interpersonal learners retain information is to allow them to “teach” you what they have learnt. Listen to them and interact whenever possible by asking questions, asking for clarifications or their opinion on the matter.
Activities for Kids with Intrapersonal Intelligence
Since nowadays communication and people skills are becoming more valuable, having interpersonal intelligence can be an advantage. Even though some children are born with this ability, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be learnt by doing specific interpersonal intelligence activities like the ones suggested above.
What is important is that we observe each child and make sure that we give them the opportunity to learn and express themselves in a way that feels natural to them and comfortable.
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Mom of two wonderful children, dedicated teacher and book lover.