8 Great Smarts for Homeschoolers • Tina Hollenbeck

A Guide to Teaching Based on Your Child’s Unique Strengths

August 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2523-2

Kids don’t just learn one way . . . and that matters a lot for homeschool parents.

One of the benefits of a home education is a curriculum designed to fit each student. But that means knowing how your child learns. Not every child receives knowledge the same way. It’s up to the teacher to figure out the best way to reach each one.

Based on the 8 Smarts identified by Kathy Koch—word, logic, picture, music, body, nature, people, and self—8 Great Smarts for Homeschooling Families tailors these ideas to the unique setting of the home classroom. Tina Hollenbeck, a leader in the home education community, applies the 8 Smarts to each division of a complete curriculum:

  • Math
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Religious Education
  • Fine Arts
  • Electives

Yet when it comes down to it, the real benefit of homeschooling is personal relationships. Hollenbeck concludes by showing that when parents know their kids’ multiple intelligences—and when kids understand their family members in turn—it leads to a healthy homeschool dynamic. So don’t try to teach in the dark. Know your kid’s smarts, then watch them start engaging with their world in fresh ways.


Tina Hollenbeck is a Jesus-follower, wife, mother, and homeschool advocate. She and her husband educated each of their children at home from birth through high school graduation. Tina owns The Homeschool Resource Roadmap, a free database that describes thousands of homeschool-oriented learning options. She also mentors homeschooling parents, aiming to help them see that they are designed and equipped for the task.


When my daughters were about four and five, I was working with them on counting. Abbie could pretty easily count as high as requested, but Rachel struggled to get past twenty. No matter how I coaxed or cajoled, she simply couldn’t remember and consistently apply the counting pattern.

One day in the midst of my trying to figure out how to help her, she came to the dining room for her “math lesson” as requested. I was jotting a note in my planner, so Rachel began skipping around the table. That didn’t faze me, as she was a very active child. What did get my attention, though, was her counting. As she skipped, she counted. She got to twenty – and kept going. Higher and higher she counted – all the way to a hundred before stopping and plopping down to do math. My mouth wasn’t exactly hanging open, but it might as well have been.

“Rachel,” I asked, “can you do that again?”

Still sitting down, she smiled and started. Right around twenty, though, she paused, frowned, and stopped. “I can’t remember more.”

“That’s okay, hon. What about trying it again as you skip around the table?”

She jumped up. “Really?!” It wasn’t every day – or any day – that math happened in motion.

She began skipping and counting, reciting the numbers in her airy, sing-song voice until she once again reached a hundred. Then she stopped, happy as a clam, and asked, “Is that enough, Momma?”

Over the next few days, I experimented with her, asking her to count while sitting and then again while moving in some way. Every single time she was still, she struggled. Each time she was in motion, she could keep going as long as I let her.

It had already dawned on me that Rachel was body smart. Though it was really too early in her life to pinpoint her smarts strength, I was quite certain – based on her confidence and grace in motion – that she was. I had an inkling that music smart might be strong for her as well. By skipping or hopping or jogging while chanting numbers in time to her stride, Rachel was activating both smarts to accomplish a learning task. When she was sitting still and counting, the rhythm didn’t kick in, leaving her doubly hamstrung.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that Rachel never grew to like math and would, in fact, call herself a math struggler. She worked hard to master the typical arithmetic functions so she’s competent with the math most people use throughout their lives, and she managed geometry because of her picture- and body-smart strengths. But algebra completely befuddled her. And we realized that God has wired her such that she doesn’t need to master “higher math” in order to live a happy, successful adult life.

I believe it’s imperative to understand and embrace the truth that our kids will not be good at everything – because no human being on the planet is wired to master the full, complete scope of human knowledge and skill. In reality – no matter what curriculum we buy or which methods we employ (even when we match instruction to a child’s multiple intelligence strengths) – some kids simply will not soar in math. Others will always struggle with writing or science or art. In order to help each child actually maximize her own real potential, we must decide to be okay with that.


8 Great Smarts for Homeschoolers is a revolutionary guide for raising confident kids who love to learn. Capturing the very essence of home education. Tina Hollenbeck shows parents how to help children embrace and excel in their God-given interests and abilities. I wish I would have had this book during our homeschooling years.
– Ginger Hubbard
Bestselling author of Don’t Make Me Count to Three and I Can’t Believe You Just Said That; cohost of the podcast Parenting with Ginger Hubbard

A great practical guide for new and seasons homeschoolers alike, 8 Great Smarts for Homeschoolers will give you invaluable tools to discern the individual needs and the learning styles of your own children. Here is simple, direct, and easy-to-understand information you will refer to over and over again. Tina will become a kind friend as you walk through the pages of her book. This is a resource you don’t want to be without as you navigate the wonderful world of homeschooling!
– Karen Campbell
Author of The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling: When the One Anothers Come Home

Rather than feeling “less than” during academic studies, children who recognize that their smarts ARE smart will find powerful new ways of navigating, even enjoying, subjects that have been difficult in the past. Dr. Kathy Koch, in her excellent book, 8 Great Smarts, provided the homeschool community with tremendous insight, knowledge, and encouragement about these smarts. Now, Tina Hollenbeck’s new book adds another layer of usability for homeschooling families as she shares practical (and wonderful) ways of integrating these smarts into every subject area. I’m excited for new doors to open for parents and children through this book, and for more children to experience the JOY of learning in ways that honor their unique design.
– Diana Waring
Pioneer homeschooler and author of the History Revealed curriculum, the Experience History Through Music series, and the new Yearning to Breathe Free American history curriculum