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Bodily-Kinesthetic

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: Does a child who walks as early as ten months, generally more intelligent than a child who walks at twelve months? Does a one year child who is able to say four single words, early in his/her language development? Is there any correlation between physical development and language development in intelligences? Please advise.

A: There has been much debate about early walking, less sleep, early talking, and their correlation with intelligence. Some studies have indeed proven that a positive correlation is apparent while others did not find a significant association.

Interestingly, according to an old study that took several years about two decades ago at the German Sports College, Cologne, the effect of early movement training on the general development of the pre-school child was found. This study revealed that if children learnt to swim at an early age (motor skills), not only is their physical development advanced, but also their powers of concentration, reaction velocity, intelligence as well as social behavior at kindergarten-age are found to be favorably influenced.

Bodily-kinesthetic skills is considered a form of intelligence due to a number of reasons. Most importantly, movement occupies a central position in human activity and it is a central feature of early learning for the young. Sensorimotor (a functioning in both sensory and motor aspects of bodily activity) experience comprises the principal focus of the infant's early knowledge and experience of the world, and speech is thus built on prior sensorimotor knowledge. Scientists who study the brain suggest that motor behavior is not a subsidiary form of higher mental functioning. However, this serves the important function of bringing refinement, goal-directedness, adaptiveness, and survival value to the human organism.

Hence, it is evident that early child movement training develops an area, which enables the child to have successful experiences relatively easy. This in turn boost self-confidence and advances independence which seems to influence the manner in which children and parents deal with one another which means, more and more independence is given or even urged upon the child. Overall, this actually influences the pleasure of achievement and development of intelligence favorably. Therefore, physical and verbal development would have an impact in the increase of children's intellectual functioning because of a number of relating factors as discussed.

Today, parents are much more aware in the development of certain skills in their children and this leads to more advanced development (compared to three decades ago!). Different children may be at different points of development e.g., a child might be at the "developmentally advanced, delayed or somewhere in between" stages in terms of points of development. In fact, for verbal development, even before babies can talk, they actually understand a lot of what is being said to them much more than we think they do. Therefore, a child whose intelligence develops at a slower pace is just at different points of development compared to another child whose intellectual functioning develops more quickly. Parents should not push or force development too fast just because their child is compared to another's. Let nature take its course and you will see a more confident and calm child.


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