Visual Spatial Awareness

“Oh no, a mountain! Can’t go under it, can’t go around it, can’t go through it, we’ve got to go over it!”

This song is an example of spatial awareness – being able to understand how objects within a given space relate to you and each other, and to compare the height, length, width and direction or two or more objects. 

How do I know if my child is having difficulty with their visual spatial awareness?

Children who are having trouble with their spatial awareness typically:

  • Have difficulty with space-related concepts such as 'in', 'out', 'next to', 'above', 'under', 'in front of' and 'behind'
  • Appear clumsy or awkward and bump into things
  • Find sport and sport-related games tough
  • Have trouble drawing and/or writing in proportion (e.g. using a consistent letter size and placing them on the line or drawing a person with a head that’s larger than the body)
  • Have difficulty telling the difference between the letters 'b', 'd', 'p' and 'q'
  • Draw their letters back to front (e.g. a ‘b’ that looks like a ‘d’)
  • Lose their place on a page

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Fun Activities

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Ways you can help your child with their visual spatial awareness

The below activities will help little miss or mister to develop their spatial awareness skills:

  • Songs with actions such as the ‘Hokey Pokey’ or ‘Simon Says’
  • Copying pictures from vertical planes (e.g. a blackboard) to horizontal planes (e.g. paper on a desk)
  • Navigating their way through obstacle courses (e.g. climbing in and out of tunnels, under and over different objects and so on)
  • ‘Hanging activities’ such as climbing or swinging on playground equipment
  • Playing ‘Follow the Leader’*
  • Drawing a particular image such as a family portrait with Mum and Dad taller than the kids
  • Playing ‘Twister’ (positioning parts of the body on the different spots on the mat)
  • Making models out of plasticine, playdough or clay (e.g. using a picture as a guide)
  • Copying 3D block designs

* To play ‘Follow the Leader’, pick someone to be the leader of the group. Everyone else has to follow the leader in a caterpillar formation (one behind the other) while doing whatever actions they do.

Some additional tips for improving your child’s visual spatial awareness

Some bonus tips for helping junior with their spatial awareness include using:

  • Graph paper to help them space letters equally (e.g. writing one letter per box on the graph paper)
  • Visual cues of coloured lines or dots with green for 'start' and red for 'stop' to show where to begin letters and place them correctly
  • Paper with raised lines (features raised dark lines that are bumpy when the pencil crosses over them to help guide your youngster to stay on the lines while writing)
  • A sticker worn on the hand or a ribbon tied on the wrist to indicate direction

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Combined Videos

Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.