Spatial thinking includes a set of mental abilities that help us understand, remember, and produce information that is visual or exists over space. There is also an organizational aspect of spatial thinking, such as keeping belongings and spaces organized, or even remembering where things are. Many professions draw on these skills, including art, design, engineering, mechanics, and athletics.

People with strengths in spatial thinking may tend to think spatially about information that others process differently. For example, on a trip they may prefer reading or visualizing a map rather than thinking about the journey as a step-by-step process. They may be good at organizing and keeping track of their belongings. They may draw or copy well, and they easily understand information that is presented visually. They may be good at fixing or building things (such as model airplanes or furniture that must be assembled).

People with challenges in this area may have trouble interpreting maps, graphs, diagrams, or symbols. Their living space or materials may be cluttered. They may have trouble visualizing how pieces of something fit together before it is assembled, and may struggle with putting things together from parts.

 Strategies for managing challenges with spatial thinking

  • Cooking can help develop your visual understanding of quantity (such as how much goes into a cup or a tablespoon).
  • Use graph or other lined paper to help keep notes or calculations orderly.
  • Practice interpreting graphs, charts, and maps. It may help to use words to describe visual material for yourself.
  • Turn to experts for suggestion on how to organize your living space.
  • Sharpen your ability to think spatially with various online games (such as those at http://www.lumosity.com/).

Learn more:

The Child Development Institute offers some tips for parents on identifying and helping children overcome spatial thinking issues.

 

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