Most people harness the power of spatial understand in their everyday lives, often without even being aware they are using it. From reading a map to assembling IKEA furniture, we all rely on the part of our brain that helps us understand where objects are in space and how they relate to one another. But imagine if you receive extra training for spatial thinking, even from a very young age. What types of additional analyses could you perform?
There is long been a link between kids who are good spatial tasks and those who eventually thrive in the worlds of science, technology, engineering and math. But just because little Suzy is good at putting together puzzles doesn’t mean she will grow up to become a tech wiz. In early childhood education classrooms, teachers are learning that additional spatial training can significantly improve students’ success as they get older. By the time Suzy is taking a physics class in high school, she may be able to use three-dimensional objects to help understand the concepts.
High school students may struggle to choose what they want to study as a career. Many of them, particularly those with strong visual ability and spatial understanding, are drawn to the engineering field. Two other popular options for students with a high visual IQ are mathematics and computer science. In fact, some colleges, such as USC Online, offer degrees that rely on several of these strengths, such as spatial thinking, analysis, visualization and modeling. All four of those skills can be augmented with extra training during the high school years so that students are prepared when they reach the college level.
By the time people reach adulthood, they already are using spatial-thinking skills for daily tasks such as parking and finding an unfamiliar building without a GPS. In fact, adults who thrive at these types of mental challenges might be better able to retain cognitive function into old age. Still, it is never too late to get additional training in spatial thinking. Increased ability might be the difference between confidently reading a topographic map and getting completely lost in the woods. Or, adults can hone their skills with mental rotation: being able to envision what a two-dimensional object would look like if it leapt off the page and became a physical thing.
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In fact, there are many ways people of all ages can train themselves to have better spatial awareness. These tasks can be anything from playing Tetris on a video game to building small-scale models. Many adults like to piece together difficult puzzles while others choose hobbies such as knitting, which requires both the manufacture and engineering of a physical object from a fluid material. There even are many apps that can assist people of all ages who want to improve their spatial thinking.
Spatial and visual awareness is important for navigating daily life. But it is not something people are born with. These skills can be learned and improved at any time with additional training. And in some cases, that additional education can even lead to a new career path.