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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Spatial intelligence in children - Help me Achieve Success in Life

By Andrew Loh

Most traditional schools and their teachers often fail to recognize the great mental skills of spatial learners and this usually leads to lots of frustration and anger in the mind of a child who is spatially equipped. Hence, there is an urgent need for parents to train their spatial children to learn and master the art of discovering their hidden talents and skills. Traditional teaching methods are made of techniques to train auditory and sequential learners. They involve disseminating curriculum in a step by step manner where the concepts are introduced in a monotonous and repetitive manner. Children are assessed under a standard test conditions and results assessed in an academic manner by assigning grades. However, for a spatial manner this approach may never work just because they are not equipped to learn in this manner. Usually, they learn by understanding that concepts are embedded within a context and they are related to others in an invisible manner. They also learn by creating a mental picture of overall concepts and in what manner they fit the given assignment and task. They also process information by comparing it with what they already know and understand.

To train spatial learners, parents may need to understand that there are two important guidelines - if their children fail to visualize, they are not thinking and learning, and they should be taught according to their strengths and not weaknesses. The most important key is to direct their learning experiences towards everything that is thematic nature and to direct them to understand that it pays off to learn once they experience success. Here are some time-tested and proven methods to train and teach spatial children:

Children with spatial intelligence usually like the following:

  • Like to play with patterns, shapes and objects

  • Love painting and drawing

  • Prefer colors a lot than black and white

  • They also like to touch, feel and sense things

  • Love to hear fairy and thematic stories

  • Love to dismantle things and look what makes them

  • Test models to study how things work

  • Love to create their own objects by using hands and self generated ideas

  • Love to see different things and materials in museum

Most common activities that can keep spatial children interested in learning more:

  • Buy plenty of books that contain themes and pictures. Such books help children maintain their concentration and focus.

  • Read stories and events by showing them the related pictures and themes. Asking them to recite stories would help them learn alphabets and language skills.

  • Sight and tender sound are known to help such children a lot. Create a surrounding where children feel home among bright colors and posters.

  • Spatial children also like patterns, shapes and objects to play with. Additional materials of immense interest are clay, paper, sponge balls and blocks that have bright colors.

  • Provide those patterns and shapes that are easy to assemble so that they can learn the basic of sequencing ideas in a proper manner. Sequential learning is very important in a conventional classroom.

  • Ask them to paint or draw something that tells a story or defines a theme. These stories and themes could be from their classroom text books and projects. Let them think and feel the subject matter and later explain them through pictures and themes.

  • Introduce them to linguistic skills that define a spatial world. Use important keywords that explain a sense of space like “big”, “small”, “little”, “large”, “fat”, “thin”, “thick”, “circle”, “round”, “oval”, “curved”, “straight”, “flat”, “rough” and “smooth.” When children are exposed to important spatial world, they are known to learn spatial skills a lot better.

Seize the benefit of daily opportunities to help children practice spatial thinking. One can find spatial tasks and projects everywhere in nature including home. Ask these simple yet very important questions to boost spatial thinking:

  • “Would these things go in one bag?”

  • “Can you fit that bed spread on your bed?”

  • “Where do shoelaces go on your shoes - under or over?”

  • “How big is that milk can? Is it bigger than the grocery bag?”

  • “Which is bigger - Sun or Moon?”

Ask them to predict results or consequences. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of spatial teaching. Here is an example. Take children to a stream in the nature and instruct children to create a paper boat and let it sail in the water. Now, ask children about the direction that the paper boat will take as soon as they drop the boat on the water surface. This will give them a chance to learn the sense of direction. Another example is to predict the direction of travel a ball takes once it is dropped on to the floor.

Parents may like to use a number of self-made and naturally available teaching opportunities to train children spatial thinking skills. It is a step-by-step process that might take more time and duration. However, it is worthwhile to spend some quality time to expose children to the skills of spatial thinking.

Featured Resource

Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner
By Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D

Do you know things without being able to explain how or why? Do you solve problems in unusual ways? Do you think in pictures rather than in words? If so, you are not alone. One-third of the population thinks in images. You may be one or you may live with one. If you teach, it is absolutely certain that some of your students - probably the ones you aren't reaching - are visual-spatial learners. Dr. Linda Silverman coined the term "visual-spatial learner" in 1981 to describe the unique gifts of people who think in images.

They get the big picture because they see the world through artists' eyes. They remember what they see, but forget what they hear. They're disorganized, can't spell and have no sense of time, but they have an infectious sense of humor, wild imaginations and can lose themselves completely in the joy of the moment.


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