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Age-old parenting lessons for a brand new school year.

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One of my favorite tools for illuminating children's unique gifts is Howard Gardner's highly acclaimed theory of multiple intelligences (1983, 1999) in which he delineates at least eight distinct types of intelligences of value to society that exist in human beings. Eight different realms in which to uncover the sparks of genius in our children.

Kids who are masters of puzzles and Legos, for example, exhibit what Gardner calls spatial intelligence, while children who love reading and telling stories possess linguistic intelligence. Bug-loving kiddies tend to exhibit naturalistic intelligence, while children who get a kick out of strategy games often have logical-mathematical intelligence. Children with natural leadership skills show have interpersonal intelligence; while introspective, spiritual children have intrapersonal intelligence. Kids with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are agile and physically coordinated, while those with musical intelligence have a knack for singing and playing instruments.

And if you're especially lucky along your parenting journey, you'll get to know a child with menschlich intelligence--a spark of God-given sweetness and compassion that far transcends the 99th percentile on the California Achievement Test.

But even if you conclude that your child is not a budding Albert Einstein, you're in good company. At the end of the day most of our kids are, well, regular old kids--good at some things, not so good at others. And counting on us to love and support them in all their wonderfully regular-kid glory.

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Sharon D. Estroff

Sharon Duke Estroff is an internationally syndicated Jewish parenting columnist, award-winning Jewish educator and mother of four. Her first book, Can I Have a Cell Phone for Hanukkah? was released by Broadway Books in 2008. Her website is