Spatial Awareness and Fine Motor Skills in Your Child

January 04, 2017


When your preschooler sculpts with clay, traces objects on paper, or cuts out shapes with scissors they’re utilizing their spatial (developing an image of an object in their “minds-eye”) and fine-motor skills. You know this is beneficial for their future creative endeavors, however new studies suggest that practicing these fine-motor skills with your child, like playing with building blocks or putting jigsaws together, can also affect their ability in math and reading.

Although it has been noted that spatial intelligence is an inherent trait, meaning you’re either born with it or you’re not, there have also been many findings indicating it can also be learned by doing specific activities. We’ve detailed some activities you can do with your child that motivates them to think spatially and also develop their fine-motor skills.

Ask Questions

Sometimes it’s not just the act of doing something that strengthens their spatial-awareness skills. Just by opening up conversation with your child and asking them questions will get them thinking about objects and shapes, i.e. visualizing it in their “minds-eye”.

Here are a few questions you can ask your child to get you started:

-Will the groceries fit in one bag?

-Does this circle object fit into this square hole?

-Which way does this curtain fit on the window?

-How many oranges can fit in this basket?

Use Gestures

When children are encouraged to use their hands it is easier for them to think about things spatially. Both adults and children can solve problems more easily when able to use their hands and gesture.

From in their article, “The Science of Gestures”:

“When people are encouraged to use their hands, they seem better able to solve problems that require them to imagine rotating an object in space.

For instance, in a study of 5-year-olds, the kids with the best mental rotation skills were also the kids who spontaneously used their hands during problem-solving (Ehrlich et al 2006).

And experimental evidence suggests that gesturing isn’t just linked with better performance. It enables better performance.”

Physical Play

A great way to strengthen your child’s fine motor skills is to encourage physical play through building blocks, jigsaw puzzles, and working with Playdoh. Anything you can do to get your child to use their hands with physical objects is a great step to building their fine motor skills. You can have them help you out in the kitchen by letting them pour a glass of milk for themselves from a smaller container into their glass. It not only lets them help themselves which is great for their self-confidence, but it also gets them practicing their ever-important fine motor skills.

We hope these small activities will get you thinking about your children’s development in different ways. It may not be a full-proof way to make your child grow up to be stellar mathematicians but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

For more in-depth information regarding this topic, feel free to visit the following websites we used for our research.

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