Spatial awareness affects our movements and interactions with the surrounding environment. Kids start developing spatial awareness from a young age, and various activities can help bolster this essential life skill. Spatial awareness promotes academic success in children as they learn and grow, so integrating those activities into a child’s daily life can go a long way.

What Is Spatial Awareness?

A young toddler crawling across a wooden floor.

Image by Picsea is licensed with Unsplash License

You move through and interact with your surroundings every day thanks to spatial awareness. Spatial awareness is your body’s ability to know where it is in a space, to be aware of objects and other people in that space, and to understand its position in relation to those other objects and people. Having good spatial awareness also means being able to understand and respond to other objects and people changing positions. There are many activities parents and caregivers can do with their children to promote spatial awareness as their children grow and develop. 

How Can You Help Your Children Develop Spatial Awareness?

You can start helping your children develop spatial awareness from an early age. Here are some activities to integrate into your daily routine:

Make Sure Your Baby Has Freedom To Explore

Babies need time and a safe space to move around and explore their surrounding environment. Yes, cribs and highchairs are essential sometimes, but you should also make sure your baby has lots of time to crawl around and learn about their environment. Giving them that time to explore can help babies learn about where they are in relation to objects around them. They also start understanding concepts such as high, low, near, and far.

Talk About Location and Distance

You can build talking about location into your everyday activities. For example, put a toy on the bed and say where the toy is in relation to the bed (“on the bed”). Then, talk about where the bed is, too (“in the bedroom”). Likewise, discuss how close or far objects are from your kid’s location. You can even measure distances by counting steps.

Teach Sizes and Shapes

As you go about your day, point out the sizes and shapes of objects you come across. You can do this with any object. Say when one toy is bigger than another toy, or point out the shape of common objects like dinner plates.

Discuss Directions

Give your child simple directions, either as a game or when you’re going somewhere. Ask your child to wave their right or left hand or turn right or left at a specific object. If you want to make following spatial directions into a game, you can hide a toy and then give your child directions to find it.

Play Together

You’ll find a variety of games and activities that help build spatial awareness. Everything from puzzles to blocks to “Simon Says” has a role. Hide-and-seek games are especially helpful when you want to focus on spatial awareness while having fun with your child. Find a good hiding spot for yourself, or tailor the game to younger kiddos by hiding a favorite toy or stuffed animal.

Small puzzles, building blocks, or toys with fit-together pieces are also great. Help your child examine the edges and shapes of a piece to determine where the different pieces fit together. Put things together and take them apart, first doing the tasks together, and then giving your child a chance to do it themselves.

Fill and Empty Objects

Toddlers get great practice with spatial awareness by pouring water and dumping objects. These experiments help your child see objects can sometimes fit inside other objects. At the same time, your child gets to experience what happens when they hold an object like a bowl lower or higher before they empty it. These experiments even build pre-math and pre-science skills, along with spatial awareness.

Arrange and Stack Objects

Have fun practicing concepts like “short” and “long” by arranging objects with your child. You can stack blocks from small to large, then large to small. Want another fun activity perfect for building spatial awareness in kids? Try rolling Play-Doh into long pieces before separating them into shorter and longer pieces.

Get Active Through Spatial Sports

Go to the playground with your child and encourage playing on different equipment. Sports activities like playing catch also help hone spatial awareness skills. Dance, gymnastics, baseball, and soccer are all great activities if you want your child to develop spatial awareness.

Children in dance classes learn that they’ll run into someone if they stand too close, while children playing baseball learn how to adjust their bats to different positions of a pitched ball. Kids playing soccer see how kicking the soccer ball hard or soft changes its trajectory. These activities translate to valuable spatial awareness skills.

How Does Spatial Awareness Contribute to Academic Success?

All in all, spatial awareness helps kids become conscious of things in their environments along with their position relative to those objects. That ability is important for giving context to the location of an object, such as knowing a plate is on the table instead of under the table. Spatial awareness is important for movement, informing us how people and objects move through the environment and helping kids navigate their surroundings. It also helps children maintain personal space in social settings.

While all of those skills come into play in the classroom, spatial awareness also directly contributes to academic success. Spatial understanding is key for understanding grammar and sentence structure, making it a building block of reading and writing. Some mathematical concepts require spatial awareness as well, such as geometry and arranging numbers. By developing spatial awareness from a young age, your child is forming the foundation for academic success in the future.

At Crème de la Crème, we strive to educate the whole child, honing skills like spatial awareness through engaging activities every day. From infant care to kindergarten, to before and after school and summer camp programs for older children, our programs strengthen your child’s cognitive abilities, along with their social and life skills. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and tour the Crème de la Crème learning center in your area.