X Close




Archive for the 'spatial skills' Category

Spatial skills

By Admin, on 29 March 2021

Image credits: Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Spatial thinking incorporates a number of different skills. For example, being able to imagine an object and rotate it in our minds. This is known as mental rotation. Other spatial skills include: disembedding, which is the ability to mentally separate a particular object from a more complex image and navigation, which is being able to move around our environment either literally or virtually by understanding the position and relationship between different objects.

Several studies have shown these different spatial skills are connected to children’s mathematical development. Results collectively show children who are better at spatial thinking also do better at maths. For example, young children who do better at constructing building blocks also do better on assessments of early maths skills.

Further research also shows spatial skills can be trained. For example, computer games that require children to orientate themselves in virtual worlds, playing with building blocks and lego, and reading maps when going for walks. Intervention studies have shown that these types of play not only improve children’s spatial skills, but in some cases, there was also an improvement in their maths abilities.

More recent findings have also indicated that maths skills can also support children’s spatial thinking: so, the relationship between maths and spatial skills is bi-directional. Collectively, this evidence strongly suggests that spatial thinking is a vital component of children’s mathematical development.

Want to know more? Check out some of these papers:

“Make Space: The Importance of Spatial Thinking for Learning Mathematics” by Dr Katie Gilligan (University of Surrey)

“Early Education for Spatial Intelligence: Why, What, and How” by Nora Newcombe and Andrea Frick (Temple University)


Copyright © 2021 UCL