How to Develop Spatial Thinking and Number Sense in Early Childhood

Spatial Thinking and Number Sense in Early Childhood

In this article, we are going to examine how to develop spatial thinking. Understanding the placement and dimension of objects, as well as how different objects are related, requires spatial thinking. It also enables one to mentally picture and modify items and forms. Spatial thinking is not only vital for day-to-day tasks, but a new study suggests that it is also necessary for learning mathematics. Children and teenagers who excel in spatial tasks also excel at solving math problems.

It is general knowledge that when mathematics is conducted, some of the same areas of the brain used for spatial reasoning are stimulated. However, the good part is that many studies have demonstrated that “training” can enhance your spatial thinking. This implies that playing spatial games and participating in spatial activities helps develop your spatial abilities. In this article, we’ll explore spatial thinking can help with math sense in children.

First off, how do you know how to pack a suitcase or cram your stuff into your schoolbag? How do you know which feet to put your shoes on and which buttons to press on your shirt? What do you do if you get off the bus at the wrong stop and can’t find your way around a shopping centre? All these tasks require spatial abilities.

Every day, people rely on their spatial thinking ability hundreds of times without even realizing it. Even outside of daily activities, most people, including teachers, are unaware that spatial thinking has an impact on how well you perform in school, particularly in mathematics classes. So, what exactly is spatial thinking, and can you become a master spatial thinker?

How to Measure Spatial Thinking

We utilize spatial thinking to comprehend item location (position) and dimensions (such as length and size), as well as how they are related to one another. It is critical to recognize that spatial thinking is a collection of talents rather than a single skill. Below are descriptions of some of the most essential spatial skills, as well as the tests used to assess them.

Mental Shifting

We can turn images in our thoughts using mental rotation. Close your eyes and see an object such as a car as an example. Can you imagine how the car would appear if it were turned on its side? You’ll need to use mental rotation to do this. You can not only flip items in your head, but also picture how they would look if they were broken in half, folded, or bent.


Disembedding abilities are the spatial abilities required to distinguish one object or image from a more complex background. This enables us to comprehend how complex things are put together from individual components.

Scaling in Space

The ability to convert information through depictions of different sizes is known as spatial scaling. For instance, spatial scaling is required to recognize that the image of the park you see on your phone’s map is just the same one in which you are situated. Another scenario is when we use manuals with little illustrations to construct furniture such as a closet. To construct the wardrobe, you must be able to recognize that the miniature depiction of a wardrobe door in the diagram reflects the full-size door that you have purchased and must put together.


Navigation skills are essential for manoeuvring our surroundings and getting to where we need to go. To get around successfully, you must be able to recognize connections between buildings, use landmarks, imagine how streets or buildings would seem from multiple viewpoints, memorize pathways, and form a grasp of your environment’s structure.

  • Spatial thinking is essential in school and at work

Outside its obvious usefulness in daily situations, spatial thinking appears to be vital for academic performance, especially in the study of mathematics. People who excel at spatial thinking exercises also perform well on math assessments, and therefore n persons of all ages, there is a correlation between good spatial thinking and good mathematics achievement. Infants who are better at putting together building blocks, for instance, perform better in counting and number exams, according to study. Many studies have demonstrated that different types of spatial thinking are necessary for different math tasks for children in primary school.

Children who excel at spatial scaling are also adept at placing numbers on a number line, and those who excel at mental rotation are better at performing calculations with missing digits. Adults with high spatial abilities are essential for specific vocations. An engineer, for example, requires spatial skills to simulate the framework of a bridge or building; geoscientists require spatial skills to traverse landscapes; physicians require spatial skills to ensure that treatments are given in the correct position and that x-rays are read correctly, and biologists require spatial skills to comprehend how food advances through the various parts of our digestive tract. People with high spatial skills when they were young are more likely to have a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics as adults, according to research.

  • Honing your spatial thinking ability

Worthy of note is the fact that one doesn’t have to be overly concerned if you are not exceptionally gifted in spatial tasks. One cognitive talent that appears to adapt particularly well to training is spatial thinking. Various methods of cognitive training have been used in many research studies to increase spatial skills. Furthermore, new studies suggest that improving spatial thinking improves performance on arithmetic assessments. Transfer occurs when practice in one skill leads to advances in another. Brain training is difficult to transfer to untrained talents, according to studies on different forms of thinking. You can learn more about various methods of brain training and whether they are effective. As a result, spatial training is both rare and significant, as there is an indication that it may be applied to other disciplines, such as mathematics.

  • The link between spatial thinking and mathematics

One topic that experts are still trying to address is why spatial and mathematical abilities are linked. To put it another way, why do those who excel at spatial thinking also excel at math? One theory is that the same areas of the brain used for spatial activities are also employed for mathematics.

Also, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging is one approach to see what areas of the brain are triggered while certain activities are undertaken. A scanner is used in this procedure to show which areas of the brain are activated at different times. This can, for instance, be used to determine which parts of the brain remain active whenever a mathematical task is performed. According to studies, the parietal lobe of the brain is involved in various spatial and mathematical abilities. This indicates that training programs that teach us to think in spatial terms may help to enhance the neural pathways (brain cells) in this area of the brain.

Finally, keep in mind the essence of spatial abilities the next time you’re attempting to fit as much clothing as possible into your bag or attentively following the map on your phone. Spatial thinking abilities, maybe even more than literacy and numeracy skills, have a significant impact on how we get around and function in our daily lives. Getting additional opportunities to exercise spatial thinking, as described in this article, may also help us enhance our math skills.