29 February 2024 What to Know About Visual-Spatial Learning

Learning styles are the ways in which an individual approaches a range of styles according to Howard Gardner. Visual-spatial learning style, or visual-spatial intelligence, refers to a person's ability to perceive, analyze, and understand visual information in the world around them. Spatial relations are also correlated to our visual perceptual skills as our eyes help us to determine the distance and directionality between objects. Essentially, they are able to mentally visualise ideas.

When we visualise something or recall something by creating an image in our minds, we are typically using visual-spatial learning. When trying to recall information, creating a mental picture provides us with another cue. For example, we visualize how different items can fit together to maximize the storage capacity when we are packing our luggage or when organizing a piece of furniture as we visualize if it fits and suits the place. Besides that, visual-spatial learning is very useful in education too, especially in STEM learning related. This demonstrates how important the visual spatial skill is for daily functioning and how strengthening this visual learning can have a positive impact on academic performance.

Early education in visual-spatial skills can begin as early as 18 months of age. At this age, the child begins to learn about its surroundings and becomes conscious of its abilities. Early education plays a large role in preparing our children for later success.  Parents can begin teaching your children the fundamentals of spatial thinking as you are your children's first teachers. It's never too early to introduce your child to visual-spatial thinking and get them familiar with it. You can start by using flashcards to teach your child about animals, fruits, and body parts. Spatial reasoning skills are cumulative and durable which mean that with practice, you will improve. So the earlier the education, the larger and longer lasting the improvement.

In terms of education, visual-spatial learning is particularly important to STEM learning which includes Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics. A mathematician uses visual-spatial thinking to enhance number sense, quantity comparison, and arithmetic. Studies have found that high visual-spatial ability is linked to better math performance. Children who are more adept at visualizing spatial relationships in preschool have more advanced arithmetic skills in primary school (Zhang et al., 2013 & Gilligan et al., 2017). Middle school students who are good at mental rotation are more likely to achieve in science subjects (Ganley et al., 2014). Therefore, those who master the skills in early childhood will have more opportunities to use it to acquire and organize additional information throughout their learning process. 

To improve your children visual-spatial intelligence and skills, there are many types of approaches and activities that can enhance their ability such as: 

  • By using spatial language in everyday interactions. 

Spatial language consists of words that help people explain or describe where objects are in space. Spatial language is the key to describing locations of objects such as by using the term “on, under, above, below, inside, beside” and other similar expressions.

  • Teach using gestures and encourage children to gesture.

Gesture is a powerful communicating and teaching tool especially for children with visual-spatial type of learning who learn best with using gestures as it helps in remembering and understanding concepts better.  Playing charades or teaching using gestures with your children can be an effective way to encourage children to gesture.

  • Promote visualization.

Teaching visualization can be as simple as visualizing a cupcake design before piping and designing it. 

  • Playing the matching game.

Playing matching games can improve visual-spatial learning as it challenges the mind in remembering the similar card placement.

  • Build objects in a storytelling context.

Playing with building objects such as Lego and wooden blocks can significantly increase a child’s spatial thinking ability because it presents them with challenges. Also, by allowing your child to story tell on what they are building, this can indirectly improve their communication skills.

There are many other activities that can be carry-out, depending on your child's interest. Visual-spatial intelligence is not a fixed ability and it can be possessed with adequate practice and learning. Although some people are better at spatial thinking than others, they too can improve substantially if they keep practicing even if they start out with a lower score.

Through training and practice, spatial reasoning for STEM learning can be boosted and holistic development can be maximized.

Heads out to our website to understand more about your child’s learning type with our DNA testing! Knowing your child's learning type early can save time by focusing on your child’ learning type and indirectly help children to have fun and exciting learning and allow parents to know what’s the best approach. 


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The benefits of visual-spatial learning (with activities and tips). Indeed Career Guide. (2021). Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-visual-spatial-learning#:~:text=What%20is%20visual%2Dspatial%20learning,learn%20holistically%20rather%20than%20sequentially.

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