Spatial intelligence: What is it, why is it important and how to develop it in your child
Everyone knows that LEGO® is good for kids. The image below outlines the eight ways that LEGO® assists your child’s development – one of those is to aid in the development of Spatial Intelligence. But what is Spatial Intelligence exactly? And why is it important?
What is Spatial Intelligence?
Spatial Intelligence is the capacity to understand and remember the spatial relations among objects. Simply put, it is the ability to “see with the mind’s eye” – to picture what something will look like, before you create it.
Why is Spatial Intelligence important?
We’ve always associated “intelligence” with people who are highly literate and numerate. However, as noted in a paper by Carmel Diezmann and James Watters from Queensland University of Technology, a careful analysis of highly creative people in the area of maths and science suggests that other behaviours broadly identified as spatial intelligence are significant areas of human capability.
This means that people with highly developed spatial skills find success in solving many tasks in everyday life, as noted by Johns Hopkins University. For instance, using a map to guide you through an unfamiliar city, merging into high-speed traffic, and orienting yourself in your environment (as when you are learning your way around a new school building) are all activities that involve spatial ability.
Spatial Intelligence is also important for success in many fields of study. STEM subjects, such as maths, natural sciences, engineering, economic forecasting, meteorology and architecture, all involve the use of spatial skills.
For instance, an astronomer must visualise the structure of a solar system and the motions of the objects in it. An engineer visualises the interactions of the parts of a machine. Radiologists must be able to interpret the image on a medical X-ray. Chemical sum formulas can be viewed as abstract models of molecules with most of the spatial information deleted; spatial skills are important in restoring that information when more detailed mental models of the molecules are needed.
In an age where so much compelling content is found online in the two-dimensional world of iPads and the internet, many kids favour the rich, tailored experiences found online over the messy, harder work of constructing something yourself using your own imagination.
We know that our greater use of technology influences the development of our brains, for good and bad. An issue is that kids who don’t build things with their hands may struggle to develop their spatial abilities. How do we create more opportunities to develop Spatial Intelligence in our kids’ daily lives?
How to Strengthen Spatial Intelligence in your Child
This post from Growing With Your Child lists five fun activities that you can use with your kids to aid the development of their Spatial Intelligence. One of them is building with LEGO®. In fact, building with LEGO® is also recommended in both the articles from QUT and Johns Hopkins University, linked above! Playing with LEGO® strengthens spatial reasoning and coordination skills, and in doing so will enhance Spatial Intelligence.
Our School Holiday workshop programs provide kids with fantastic opportunities to dive into new BRICKS 4 KIDZ creations with LEGO®. For them, it’s an awesome day (or two) with friends – but you’ll know that it is more than just fun 🙂 .
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