Never Too Old: Meet the 77-year-old preschool founder who still takes parents on school

Traditional intelligence quotient (IQ) tests measure strength in logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence, according to Gardner. Someone with naturalistic intelligence may be able to distinguish plants, animals or cloud configurations more easily.

Dr Khoo first started using this theory when teaching social work students at NUS.

“They always think that social workers are kind of average or so-so, not really that intelligent. But when I got them to do an analysis of the other intelligences, they felt like, hey, I’m actually quite intelligent in this area,” she said.

“I felt like it really made them see themselves at a higher level, and they were more confident of themselves.”

That, she feels, is important for everyone, including children. The starting point should be that every child is intelligent, she said.

Her belief in the theory of multiple intelligences shows up in PMI’s centres and programmes.

The centre in MacRitchie has a nature corner with seashells, small rocks, abandoned bird nests and more for children to learn and play. The same piece of wood could look like different things to each child, and allows them to exercise their imagination, she said.

“If you eat vongole, remember to bring the shells here,” she told teachers in the school. Vongole is a pasta dish with clams in it.

She also engages external instructors – specialising in things like nature or music and drama – to help the children develop their different intelligences.

On a recent excursion to MacRitchie Reservoir, the nature educator known to the children as Uncle Andrew pointed out various creatures, referring to one as a “golden backside ant” and encouraging the children to use magnifying glasses to take a closer look at a millipede along the path.

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