How to Help Your Child Study: Multi-Sensory Studying

Jacob GoodwilerTips

Does your child struggle to remember information from the notes she’s studying? Is it difficult for your child to spend much time studying in solitude or while sitting still? Is it challenging for your child to express his thoughts in writing?

Many of us are inclined towards a certain way of interacting with information in the world around us. Dr. Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience at Harvard University, defined these different inclinations as “multiple intelligences”.  As we understand our personal inclinations, we are more equipped to choose strategies to help us understand and internalize what we are learning. To see descriptions of each of the intelligences, PBS gives a helpful overview.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]One of the defining factors of classical education is that it takes the whole person into consideration. God has created us as unique, dynamic individuals, and we do not all learn in the same, prescriptive way. To truly educate, our whole beings—mind, affections, and bodies—must be engaged in learning.[/quote]

The following study tips are based on Dr. Gardner’s nine multiple intelligences. But regardless of our inclinations, the more we interact with information in a variety of ways, the more connections we can make in our brain, therefore solidifying the information in our brains. It would therefore be most beneficial to use a variety of these strategies. It is also essential to interact with the information daily in order for our brain to strengthen the connections necessary to hold onto the information long-term.

Linguistic Intelligence:

  • Re-write notes in paragraph form.
  • Re-tell the information in a story form.
  • Create flashcards.
  • Find mnemonic devices.

Logical/Mathematical Intelligence:

  • Re-write notes in a mind-map diagram form: the main topic is in the middle, and the main and sub points radiate out from it.
  • Make a copy of the notes, cut out each different point, and then re-organize the points in the original form.
  • Find or make charts and graphs that help you understand the information.

Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence:

  • Find a rhythm or tune to which you can recite or sing the facts
  • Listen to classical music while you study. There is something about the alpha and beta waves and beats per minute in classical music that helps your mind receive new information. (Note: music that makes you want to sing along or dance will only be distracting.)

Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence:

  • Walk around while reading notes.
  • Jump rope while reciting facts.
  • Keep your hands busy with a stress ball or other small object while studying.

Spacial Intelligence:

  • Act out what you are studying.
  • Manipulate objects (stuffed animals, Legos, sticks) in a re-enactment.
  • Draw pictures of what you’re studying.
  • Color-code notes: one color for topic, one for main points, and one for sub-points

Naturalist Intelligence:

  • Study outside
  • Picture how what you’re studying relates to what you see in nature

Intrapersonal Intelligence:

  • Establish a quiet, comfortable study space.
  • Read notes to yourself and mark parts of which you are unsure, then ask questions.
  • Note in the margins why the topic is important to know.

Interpersonal Intelligence:

  • Get together with a study partner or group to re-tell notes to each other and quiz each other.
  • Re-teach information to someone else (sister, parent, dog).
  • Set a timer for each topic, and take timed social breaks between studying each topic.

Existential Intelligence:

  • Write down questions the notes provoke about big ideas (life, death, culture).
  • Journal about how what you’re learning might impact your life or society.

For tips about how to establish daily homework space and time for your child, see our previous blog post, Winning the Homework Battle.


Written by: Ms. Catherine McChristian (6th Grade Lead Teacher)