Visual-Spatial Skills: Your Child’s Navigation “Toolkit” for Reading and Math
This article provides helpful resources to improve and strengthen their visual-spatial skills. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) is a learning and academic center. As a reminder, ILS is not a health care provider and none of our materials or services provide a diagnosis or treatment of a specific condition or learning challenge you may see in your child or student. If you seek a diagnosis or treatment for your child or student, please contact a trained professional who can provide an evaluation of the child.
If you have ever watched a young toddler try to fit blocks and shapes in other toys, crevices or spaces around the house, you may not know they are beginning to develop their visual-spatial skills. You may not understand what visual-spatial skills are or why they are important, but they can be very critical for a child’s learning development. In fact, you use these skills on a daily basis without even realizing it.
A great example of how you use your visual-spatial skills is when you look at a map or use landmarks to find your way home. You must spatially understand where your body is in space (for example, at the store) and then visually and spatially find where you need to go (the route you take to get back home from the store).
In your child’s world, they often use their visual-spatial skills at school, at home and on the playground for different types of learning experiences. A child may use their visual-spatial skills while playing baseball. They must visually see the ball coming toward them, understand the speed and distance, and spatially recognize where their body is to either catch or hit the ball. These types of skills are needed on a regular basis for sports, dance, social encounters and following directions.
Are visual-spatial issues a vision issue?
If your child struggles with visual-spatial issues, you may automatically think it is a vision issue. However, children with 20/20 vision can still have trouble in these areas because the brain, not the eyes, processes visual information surrounding them. While vision issues are often corrected with glasses or contacts, visual-spatial issues are usually never outgrown, but can be improved with the right intervention.
Academically, a child must use their visual-spatial skills for reading, navigation and completing math problems. With math problems, your child must visually process the numbers they see and then determine their placement when solving an equation. They must also understand how to stack numbers and align them when adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. As math becomes more complicated in middle school and high school, kids will use their visual-spatial skills to imagine objects, graphs and images rotating (geometry and trigonometry).
When reading, a child must understand the difference between letters and numbers and recognize their meanings (for example, the difference between “d” and “b” or “6” and “9”). You may find a child struggling with visual-spatial skills often adds or subtracts letters in words while they read across the page. They may also skip sentences or paragraphs because they lose their place easily.
Signs of Visual-Spatial Issues
If your child struggles with visual-spatial issues, you may notice some of the following signs or symptoms:
- Clumsy or uncoordinated while playing sports
- Has trouble catching, throwing or kicking balls
- Runs into furniture, other people or standing objects
- Doesn’t recognize personal boundaries in social situations (known as a “close talker”)
- Can’t find where they are on a map or often gets lost
- Adds or subtracts letters from words and sentences while reading
- Doesn’t realize numbers and letters come in a certain order
- Has trouble determining left from right
- Difficulty with visual patterns
- Attention and focus issues in the classroom
- Trouble with math problems, geometry, calculus and other math concepts
- Can’t copy notes from the chalkboard
Visual-Spatial Toys and Games
If your child struggles in several of these areas, they may need intervention to strengthen their visual-spatial skills for higher learning. One of the best ways to encourage or strengthen these areas of learning is with toys or games. Anytime a child uses an object that makes learning fun, it can reduce stress, frustration and anxiety when they transfer these skills to classroom learning. Here are some of our favorites for helping your child with their visual-spatial skills.
|Brain Teaser Puzzle|
Integrated Learning Strategies is a Utah-based center dedicated to helping mainstream children and children with learning challenges achieve academic success. Our services provide kids with non-traditional tutoring programs within the Davis County, Kaysville, Layton, Syracuse, Farmington, and Centerville areas. Areas to find Integrated Learning Strategies include: Reading tutors in Kaysville, Math tutors in Kaysville, Common Core Tutors in Kaysville, Tutors in Utah, Utah Tutoring Programs
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