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Spatial intelligence in children: Teach me those Words and Let me think in Images and Space

By Andrew Loh



Spatial intelligence, one of the most of important intelligences, is a very vital tool in our life. Although, several scholars have argued in its favor our schools seem to neglect this tool in their classrooms. Combined with visual learning, spatial intelligence could be a potentially powerful tool in children's life. Quite different from auditory learners (the so called traditional learners in a classroom), spatial learners are very unusual in the way they learn and understand things and events. These learners usually perform very well in non-verbal tasks while they tend to fail or score low in mathematical computation, memorization of digits and traditional lessons. Often, they are also found to be quite disappointing with the problem of achievement in classrooms.

Spatial learners tend to exhibit many significant traits and personality characters some of which are listed below:

  • Sensitive physically

  • May not like loud noises and sounds

  • Equipped with poor listening skills

  • Often fail in finishing assigned school tasks

  • Poor handwriting that looks messy

  • Immensely like puzzle and video games, and likes to work on own things

  • Pet subjects – music and art

  • Very poor sense of timing

  • Does not like spelling tests

  • Cannot take criticism properly and often very sensitive to it

  • Good memory while recognizing long forgotten roads and alleys in a strange place just after visiting them once in the past

  • Vivid and great imagination powers

  • Can be easily distracted

  • Often disorganized and messy in arranging things

Note: In essence, a spatial learner is very good in the following:

  • Analysis

  • Solving problems

  • Predicting patterns, objects and their spatial relationship

  • Very good in geometric thinking, transformation of information from incoherent things and disorganized information

  • Good in engineering and architecture subjects

  • Likes to learn more about astronomy and geography

Spatial thinking is what someone does when they visualize shapes and patterns through their “inner mind.” It is s sort of mental faculty that professional engineers, architects and landscape designers work in their daily lives. A microbiologist or a biochemist is very good in understanding three dimensional structure of a molecule. It is also a mental ability that relates to immense talents and skills of great painters, artists and sculptors like Rodin, Dali, Picasso and Michelangelo. Children who are endowed with spatial intelligence can easily perform a mental rotation test where different ideas, concepts and expressions could be rotated may times to arrive at a concrete meaning.

Past and present research suggests us that spatial thinking is an indicator for higher achievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Furthermore, a school going child's future reading skills could be predicted though its ability to use spatial attention. Spatial creators of the past like Einstein, Picasso, Dali, Ramanujan, Hardy, Rodin and others had great spatial ability to think in a three dimensional manner. One of the finest geniuses of all times, daVinci expressed his spatial talents in both artistic and mathematical achievements. Superior achievement in math is seen to correlate with an ability to think in a spatial manner. Better cognitive thinking and superior problem solving skills are possible only with an enhanced spatial thinking power.

Spatial thinking also involves the following:

  • An understanding for complex systems of mental data processing

  • An equally adept and simultaneous processing of data and concepts

  • Inductive reasoning approach by deciphering the data from whole into parts and smaller chunks

  • Imagination of ideas and concepts by combining already existing data and facts in a new manner

  • Strong visualization powers

  • Strong right brain skills

Right brain learning and spatial children have an extremely super sensitive nervous system that helps them assimilate a great amount of sensory stimulation. For example, light, sound and touch are three internal stimulating pints that can easily influence a spatial thinking child. Such children may not like glaring light and blaring sounds and they can easily lose their concentration and focus while doing their work. Spatial children are sorts of over excited children with their extreme sensitiveness to clothing, food, articles of play, noise, someone touching them without prior permission, and projects that do not interest them. In a sense, they are somewhat very difficult to handle and manage as parents usually find them very annoying and frustrating. Labeled as gifted and mentally endowed with superior mental faculties, these children perform very well in their life, both academic and professional, if given plenty of good opportunities. In other words, spatial learning children are far more brilliant than the normal ones who are endowed with auditory learning abilities. Continue to read Spatial Intelligence in Children: Help me Achieve Success in Life.

To learn more, read the following resources:

Springer, S.P. & Deutsch, G. Left Brain, Right Brain, New York: W.H. Freedman & Company
West, T. (1991), In The Mind's Eye, New York: Prometheus Press



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