8 Strategies to develop your child's spatial perceptual skills.
What is spatial perception?
Visual Perceptual skills involve the ability to organize and interpret the information that is seen and give it meaning. Our eyes send large amounts of information to our brains to process every single second. If our eyes send us accurate information in a way that makes sense, the brain can then process it, thus allowing us to form thoughts, make decisions, and create action. One of the core visual perceptual skills is Spatial perception.
Spatial perception and early development.
Spatial perception is the ability to perceive an object's position in relation to yourself or in relation to other objects. It implies the ability to know which way an object or symbol is positioned or turned.
A child with spatial awareness and directionality problems often has difficulty dealing with directions of objects in relation to self, such as "to my right," "to my left," "above me," "below me," etc. These children may have difficulty following directions on paper-pencil tasks such as "write your name in the top right-hand corner," "draw a line under the word ______," and the like. Understanding different spatial concepts is an essential step in spatial perceptual development.
Why is spatial perception important?
Spatial perception helps a child sequence letters and numbers correctly, such as "swim" and not "siwm." It helps a child orientate and write letters and numbers correctly and not to reverse letters and figures when writing, for example, b and d. Difficulties in these areas will lead to poor understanding of spatial concepts and instructions such as left, right, between, next to, front, or behind. Reversals of numbers and letters, difficulty understanding graphs, maps, and diagrams are also often observed.
Children who struggle with spatial perception might write things upside down or the wrong way round without noticing. Other challenges might include struggling with the spacing of words, writing in lines, and written work layout. .
What can we do ?
1. To help kids navigate these directional challenges in the classroom, we always suggest clear left/right signs be displayed in the front of the class or drawing a dot on a child's left hand to give them a point of reference.
2. A child needs to experience different positions (top, bottom, left or right, front, back, etc.) with their bodies during gross motor activities such as obstacle courses and games like Simon Says.
3. Children need to experience different spatial concepts with physical objects (placing a block in various positions, for example, in, out, above, left, or right). This will help them understand spatial concepts when we apply our knowledge with pen and paper activities.
4. Activities that support spatial planning include copying pictures or designs with matches and creating 3 D shapes with playdough and toothpicks.
5. Board games such as Tangram, Checkers, Chess, Rush-Hour, etc. is an excellent way to consolidate these skills Practicing left-right discrimination and spatial concepts during household tasks like setting the table.
6. Perceptual games (with directional elements) can go a long way in supporting your child's development.
7. Consolidation of these spatial skills on a 2D level by using fun activities and spatial perception worksheets.
8. Tangram puzzles are a fun way to consolidate and practice spatial planning skills.
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Spatial awareness activities and resources.
SPATIAL RELATIONS, R100
Spatial Planning activities and worksheets.
SPATIAL PERCEPTION RESOURCE BUNDLE, R300
Occupational Therapy resource bundle for spatial perception.