How to Enhance Your Child's Spatial Thinking Skills

By Carolina Masini,

First of all, what is Spatial Thinking? It is the act of visualizing shapes in your “mind’s eye”, and this skill is one of the aspects that specialists take into consideration to analyze a person’s overall intelligence. So why is developing Spatial Thinking important to my children?

Firstly, research suggests that Spatial Thinking improves a child’s mathematics ability (Cheng & Mix, 2013). Also, it strongly predicts achievement and attainment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. (Uttal et al 2013). In fact, a study that observed toddlers and preschoolers in a block play section showed that the inherent geometric properties of blocks encourage the development of logic-mathematical thinking in young children (i.e. the understanding of space and the physical properties of objects) (Kamii et al, 2004).

Furthermore, a 2008 study on the development of spatial skills using interventions involving block building activities found that these activities when paired with a storyline to provide context, become even more effective (Casey et al, 2008). The good news is that construction toy makers have already been making themed products for years! Some examples are K’NEX’s Mighty Makers and Beasts Alive lines.

Of course, parents can also think of their own creative ways to provide context enhance their child’s learning experience. Good luck and enjoy!

Read more at:
- Casey BM, Andrews N, Schindler H, Kersh JE, Samper A and Copley J. 2008. The development of spatial skills through interventions involving block building activities. Cognition and Instruction (26): 269-309.
- Cheng YL and Mix KS. 2013. Spatial training improves children's mathematics ability. Journal of Cognition and Development 15(1). Published online: 04 Oct 2013
- Levine SC, ratliff KR, Huttenlocher J, and Cannon J. 2012. Early puzzle play: A predictor of preschoolers' spatial transformation skill. Developmental Psychology (48): 530-542.
- Verdine BN, Irwin CM, Golinkoff RM, and Hirsh-Pasek K. 2014. Contributions of executive function and spatial skills to preschool mathematics achievement. J Exp Child Psychol. 126:37-51.
- Uttal, D. H., Meadow, N. G., Tipton, E., Hand, L. L., Alden, A. R., Warren, C., & Newcombe, N. S. (2013). The Malleability of Spatial Skills: A Meta-Analysis of Training Studies. Psychological Bulletin, 139(2), 352-402.


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