Why Spatial Reasoning Is So Important For Mathematics

Do you remember the first time you solved a puzzle? The satisfaction of completing it and finally understanding how all the pieces fit together was an amazing feeling. As parents, we want to give our children the best opportunities for success in life, and part of that includes helping them develop strong problem-solving skills such as those that accomplish finishing a puzzle. 

One skill that is essential for mathematical success is spatial reasoning. Developing this ability at an early age can set your child up for future academic achievement and it can even predict students’ later success in higher levels of mathematics, such as proportional thinking and algebraic reasoning. Keep reading to learn more about why spatial reasoning is so important for children’s mathematics and what you can do to help them excel in this area. 

What Is Spatial Reasoning?

The ability to reason spatially is a fundamental human skill that allows us to make sense of the world around us. Spatial reasoning skills are used when we navigate our environment, manipulate objects, or even daydream. Although we are often not consciously aware of it, spatial reasoning is essential for everyday life.

There are many different types of spatial reasoning tasks, but they all involve mental manipulation of 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional images. For example, a common spatial reasoning task is mental rotation, which requires imagining how an object would look if it were rotated in space. Another type of spatial reasoning task is mental folding, which involves folding a 2-dimensional image in your mind to visualize a 3-dimensional object.

Spatial reasoning skills develop throughout childhood and continue to improve into adulthood. However, some people are naturally better at spatial reasoning than others. One’s ability to reason spatially can also be affected by factors such as fatigue, stress, and boredom. Spatial reasoning skills can be improved with practice, so there’s no need to worry if your child doesn’t seem naturally gifted in this area. With a little bit of practice, anyone can become better at spatial reasoning.

Math Is More Than Numbers

When most people think of math, they think of numbers. However, math is so much more than that. It encompasses spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, and other important skills. For kids, this can be a lot to take in. They may get bored quickly if they think math is just about numbers. However, when they are exposed to spatial reasoning tasks and toys, they suddenly become interested in learning more. They may even choose to play with math materials during their free time. 

Spatial reasoning is a key part of math education and it can be very engaging for kids. By exposing them to spatial reasoning tasks and toys, we can help them develop a love for math.

Mathematical Abilities

A recent study has found that spatial reasoning skills in early childhood can predict mathematical abilities later in life. The study followed a group of children from ages 6 to 8, and found that those with strong spatial reasoning skills at age 6 were more likely to perform well on mathematical tasks at age 8. This relationship was especially strong for tasks involving the linear number line. 

The findings suggest that spatial reasoning skills play an essential role in the development of mathematical abilities. Furthermore, they indicate that intervening to improve spatial reasoning skills in early childhood could positively impact later math achievement. The study provides new insights into the importance of spatial reasoning skills and highlights the need for further research on ways to support the development of these skills in young children.

Standardized Testing

In Ontario, students take a standardized test in Grade 3 called the EQAO that determines if they are on grade level. Many teachers notice that in grade 2 students often struggle with tasks that involve spatial sense, indicating that it should be included more in math education in the early elementary classroom. But it shouldn’t just fall on teachers to help children understand spatial reasoning. There are many activities that parents can offer their children to help advance their understanding of spatial reasoning.   

How To Be Proactive

Spatial reasoning is a critical skill set for many STEM fields, and strong spatial reasoning skills have been linked to success in mathematics. As I previously mentioned, spatial reasoning skills are often not formally taught in schools which means that children could fall behind. However, parents can be proactive by helping their children develop strong spatial reasoning skills from an early age. This can be done by encouraging spatial talk in children. 

Through spatial talk, children learn to use language to describe spatial relationships and solve problems. For example, a parent might ask a child to put away their toys by saying, “Please put the red block on top of the blue cube.” Parents can also provide opportunities for spatial play, such as puzzles, building blocks, and drawing. By encouraging spatial talk and providing opportunities for spatial play, parents can help their children develop strong spatial reasoning skills that will set them up for success in school and beyond.

Spatial reasoning can be taught through each of the four pillars of math (number sense, operational sense, algebraic reasoning, and proportional reasoning). When thinking of math concepts, parents should try and view them through a spatial and geometry lens. For example, when a child is learning about number sense, they can be encouraged to gesture with their hands, or they can visualize the number line. 

If your child is struggling with spatial reasoning or any other math concept, Dropkick Math Academy can help. So, before you start searching for “math tutor near me” learn about our programs or get in contact if you have any questions. Our team of Ontario certified teachers understands the gaps in education that can often occur and can address them while boosting your child’s confidence in mathematics. 

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