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Help Your Child Develop Their Spatial Awareness

Developing spatial awareness in children is a facet of their coordination development. It can be a considerable step to take for some children, although most come to it easily. It requires them to think differently about their bodies and see themselves as being part of an environment, one in which the concepts of distance, placement and speed need to accurately calculated in order for them to achieve their goals of movement in relationship to certain objects.

They also need to understand that as these objects change positions, they must account for these changes and re-calculate their movements accordingly. Spatial development is the process of becoming coordinated in moving through the surrounding environment, even when it’s in motion.

Proprioception is a term used to describe the awareness of where our limbs are in space and it goes hand in hand with spatial awareness. As the child grows, they naturally become more exacting in knowing just how far to reach (proprioception) and when to close their hand around an object (spatial awareness).

It’s important to learn the signs of when a child has under-developed spatial awareness skills. They may appear clumsy, bumping into things around them and other children when they play. They may have trouble with positional descriptions (under, over, behind, if front of) and have problems with team games and games that utilise rackets or bats.

In the classroom this underdevelopment may be shown by a difficulty with the presentation of written work and they may find it hard to organise this work. A child who exhibits symptoms of an underdeveloped spatial awareness may need special tutoring to get them up to speed with others of their age group. Some children are just slow to pick up the concepts of spatial awareness and this underdevelopment is rarely a problem a problem as the child grows older.

Games to Encourage Spatial Development

At The Apple Tree International Kindergarten, a nursery school and kindergarten in Bangkok, there are some games we use to encourage the child’s development of spatial awareness. These games are used to not only develop the child’s body awareness as they move through space, but also to increase the child’s ability to recognize shapes, colours, directions and objects on a purely cerebral level.

The key to this development is always in making these exercises fun for the child. A child who is thoroughly engaged in an activity is much more likely to achieve greater benefits from the activity in a shorter period of time.

Body Spatial Awareness Games

These games include things like negotiating obstacle courses, ‘Simon Says’ games that require the child to mimic the body movements of the teacher and movement games that require them to include the negotiation of a foreign object in their movements. Jumping a rope or learning to maintain a spinning hula-hoop are some examples of movement games.

As the child masters these games over time, we increase the difficulty of the game to include more complicated movements or a series of movements that have to be remembered before performing them. In this way we engage the child’s mind as well as their body.

Mind Spatial Awareness Games and Exercises

It’s important that the child be able to recognize and communicate the different shapes, colours, directions and objects on an objective, cerebral level as well.

Creating games and exercises that encourage children to explore the world around them without necessarily experiencing it physically is an important aspect of spatial awareness as well.

We use games like asking the child to colour a certain body type on an outline of a body with a certain colour crayon or asking the child to create the body movement shown in a picture with their own body.

Direction is also an important concept to grasp. We show them a series of pictures of an object in different relative positions to another object, then ask them to provide answers to which picture illustrates the concept of over, under, left, right and alongside. We also teach them synonyms like ‘beneath’ for under, and ‘above’ for over and get them accustomed to recognising the synonyms as well.

Make an appointment to visit The Apple Tree International Kindergarten in Bangkok to learn more about our development programmes for young children.