By Amy McDonald
“Growing your Balloon” is one of the factors that our Kaleidoscope Connect full-color framework teaches and is represented by the color Green.
Green (the Balloon) represents each youth and their innate characteristics, natural abilities, and talents.
There are five areas we measure to determine the size – or resiliency – of the individual Balloon: Grit/Optimism, A Sense of Wonder, Gender, Positive Social Orientation, and How I Am Smart.
Within our framework, we do not ask youth, “How smart are you?” Instead we ask, “How are you smart?” By looking through this strength-based lens, we celebrate the unique talents and intelligences that every youth has.
To help youth grow their Balloons (their resiliency), here are 4 tips to support them in the development of their individual intelligences:
Take time to learn about the many different types of intelligences. Often we think about “being smart” as being “book smart” or “school smart,” when in reality there are many ways to be smart. In 1983, at Harvard University, Howard Gardner developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences. His theory was that measuring only IQ was too limiting. Instead, Mr. Gardner proposed eight kinds of intelligences: verbal, logical, visual, musical, naturalistic, kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Edutopia provides an excellent recap of Gardner’s theory: http://edut.to/2f2efol.
So, how do you go about identifying how someone is smart? There are many online assessments and surveys to support youth in finding where their intelligences lie (here is just one example: http://edut.to/2fmDORH). These assessments ask a series of questions that result in a rating for each intelligence. For example, if you are a strong visual learner, your score for Visual Intelligence will be high, whereas if you are not as strong in the area of Musical Intelligence your score there will be lower.
Connect youth with adults who can amplify their intelligences. As we connect with youth, we cannot be everything that every youth needs. Get to know youth better – talk to them, spend time with them – and find out where their intelligences are strong. If you are strong in the same area, then engage in activities that amplify this intelligence. If you are not strong in this area, find other adults to whom you can connect to the youth. Connecting youth to more adults will thicken their Webs of Support!
Celebrate the unique intelligences of youth. Seeing youth through a full-color lens ensures that we focus on many aspects of that youth, including unique talents and intelligences. It takes all types of individuals to make up this wonderful world. Take time to celebrate these unique intelligences and the youth’s progress as they realize and grow them. Some ways to celebrate include:
- Inviting people to youth performances
- Recommending youth for specific activities/responsibilities because of their unique intelligences
- Sharing accomplishments of youth with others
- Giving clear and concise feedback
Contact Brightways Learning to learn more about Kaleidoscope Connect’s full-color framework.
Amy has more than two decades of experience in K-12 education, including English Language Learning, classroom teaching, Lead Teacher, and School Counselor. She has a Bachelor’s in Linguistics, a K-8 Type B Teaching Certification, and a Masters in K-12 School Counseling. She has worked in youth development since she started in education. Currently, she leads Kaleidoscope Connect events with both youth and adults in the United States and Canada. Amy provides a fresh look at youth development as she continues to work in multiple school districts and youth and tribal organizations in Alaska and outside the state.