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What's Going On In There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life
- By Lise Eliot, Ph.D

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Enhancing Spatial Intelligence in Children - Fundamentals

By Andrew Loh



What is common with the following famous personalities?

  • Pablo Picasso

  • Vincent Von Gaugh

  • Michelangelo

  • Sir Benjamin Baker

  • Gustavo Eiffel

No doubt, these people are some of the most celebrated geniuses of this world. However, they all have one special gift in common that most of us do not possess. Most of them had an extraordinary ability to look at things in a different way. Armed with a rare gift of looking at things in a radical manner, these people possessed an ability to perceive images, pictures, and graphics and later transform them by using their mental capabilities to recreate into different and vibrant creations. Psychologists and psychoanalysts name this rare ability as spatial intelligence and it comes naturally as a rare gift to some children.

Famous psychoanalyst Gardner segregates this special ability into three components:

  • The rare ability to recognize the identity of an object, when seen from different angles.

  • The ability to gently imagine the internal movements or displacements within the parts of a bigger configuration.

  • The ability to assess about all invisible and graphical relations embedded within a larger configuration.

World-renowned painters, artists, musicians, engineers and architects have an acute sense of spatial perception that allows them to see things in a different perspective. They have a unique gift to see images where none exists for ordinary people. These intelligent people can visualize images just by looking at an object or pattern. Gustavo Eiffel created one of the greatest architectural wonders of this world – the Eiffel Tower. Just imagine creating that masterpiece when the engineering technology was so primitive! Eiffel was able to see a clear and highlighted format or pattern of the actual engineering object even before others could visualize it. Pablo Picasso was the exponent in drawing and painting objects and patterns that were invisible to ordinary people.

Spatial intelligence or visual intelligence is assuming lot of importance these days because of its unique relation with the human biology and body dynamics. Experts believe that spatial intelligence is the ability to invoke and initiate certain scenarios within the mind and later use them for a particular representation and reasoning. Spatial representations can include a number of things like diagrams, maps, models, patterns, figures, sketches and drawings. People who possess spatial intelligence can create and manipulate superior mental images and later construct a sequence of events over it.

Of late, educational experts are stressing on the importance of including teaching spatial intelligence to children in primary classrooms. Existing IQ tests cannot measure spatial intelligence, while traditional teaching modules are ill-equipped to handle this sensitive issue. Advanced techniques may include a number of unusual techniques that include:

  • Teaching and visualizing spatial world in the minds of children, by using common concepts like forms, shapes and colors.

  • Manipulate the visualization to create a three dimensional pattern that looks like clear images.

People who have highly developed spatial intelligence include architects, interior decorators, artists, sailors, engineers, surgeons, sculptors, and painters. Hundreds of well-known experts in the field of engineering have a great ability to perceive the visual world in an accurate manner. However, the level of degree of sophistication can vary among people. Someone may be very good in perceiving visual images, but they can have little ability in painting.

Some children can show extraordinary brilliance in the following activities:

  • Drawing

  • Painting

  • Collage

  • Fabric art

  • Sculpture

  • Building structure and forms by using building toys and blocks

Spatial intelligence among children is usually apparent and invisible, unless you train them to display their talents by transforming the latent talent. One such example is your children’s ability to draw and paint some figures or objects. Almost all children can draw images and paint them. However, a handful of them can excel in this form of art; the images they produce or patterns that they make could be of very high quality. Similarly, some children have great talent in using building blocks and mechanical/construction engineering models to create amazing structures, patterns and models of automotives and buildings.

Spatial intelligence is a God’s gift to a handful of people. However, you can still try to train your children in honing spatial intelligence skills by creating awareness on the importance of mental images and creation of internal movements within a larger configuration of visual perceptions. Learning about spatial intelligence is slightly different than learning other complex cognitive skills. However, it is still possible to train your children in this special area of intelligence by using advanced methods as suggested by educational and academic experts.

Featured Resource

Visual-Spatial Learners
By Alexandra Shires Golon

Looking for ways to differentiate your instruction to meet the needs of gifted visual-spatial learners? You have found it in Visual-Spatial Learners: Differentiation Strategies for Creating a Successful Classroom. Visual-spatial learners are students who show advanced abilities with computers, maps, construction toys, and puzzles.

These students think outside the box and demonstrate tremendous empathy and compassion. Too often, traditional classroom teaching strategies do not meet the needs of these students. By incorporating visual-spatial strategies to help students learn, you can more effectively reach every student. The techniques outlined within these pages help all learners succeed - regardless of their preferred learning style.

 

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