Visual – Spatial

Overview 

This module helps young children develop the ability to see the structure of objects and to visualise the connections between them. It is an introduction to understanding maps and visualising objects in space. Children use symbols to construct visual and spatial models (maps, schemes and plans) that represent what they see and to communicate their knowledge to others. They also begin to use visual models to develop the crucial ability to think about what others can see.

 

Why are these skills important?

Many otherwise confident and competent adults, left alone in an unfamiliar place with only a map to guide them to their destination, would find the task daunting if not impossible. Some people will find it difficult to make a plan of the ground floor of their own house let alone an unfamiliar house, a building with several floors or their immediate neighbourhood! Their visual-spatial abilities have remained underdeveloped.

When our ability to orientate in space is not adequately developed, we find it difficult to ‘read’ and construct maps, schemes and plans. But the consequences are far broader than this. Children who have problems with visualisation will have difficulties with Geography, Technical Drawing, Science and Mathematics.

On the other hand, secure visual-spatial abilities help us to feel confident in our environment and facilitate practical problem-solving. Moreover, as our visual-spatial awareness grows, we learn to see what things look like from another’s perspective and to understand that this may differ from what we see from our own. This has profound implications not just for cognitive but also for social and emotional development.

So the development of visual-spatial awareness is an important part of achieving our full human potential. Nevertheless, most Early Childhood programs/curricula neglect it.

 

How does this module work?

The Visual-Spatial module focuses on helping children to orient themselves confidently in space, to acquire the vocabulary necessary for understanding and communicating relative spatial location (in front of/behind, to the left of/to the right of). They are offered opportunities to ‘read’ and create plans of different spaces (part of a room, a whole room, a house, their school, their garden, their neighbourhood). To do this, they use substitute shapes and later conventional symbols, assembled to form maps, schemes and plans. They learn about the function of such visual models as devices for recording precise information and conveying it to others. They learn to mark their position on such visual models. They learn to understand that what they see depends on where they are and on the direction of their gaze. And they learn that the same applies to what others see too.

 

The additional benefits of this module

Like all the other Key to Learning modules, the Visual-Spatial module deliberately and systematically sets out to help children acquire key cognitive processes. Throughout this module, the emphasis is on opportunities to explore the use of substitute shapes as well as conventional signs and symbols to represent what we see. There are also opportunities to explore how we can assemble these substitute shapes, signs and symbols to record real spatial relationships in the form of plans and maps. This focus makes the Visual-Spatial module a particularly rich resource for developing symbolisation and visual modelling. It supports an essential, but usually neglected, aspect of cognitive development.

Overview 

This module helps young children develop the ability to see the structure of objects and to visualise the connections between them. It is an introduction to understanding maps and visualising objects in space. Children use symbols to construct visual and spatial models (maps, schemes and plans) that represent what they see and to communicate their knowledge to others. They also begin to use visual models to develop the crucial ability to think about what others can see.

 

Why are these skills important?

Many otherwise confident and competent adults, left alone in an unfamiliar place with only a map to guide them to their destination, would find the task daunting if not impossible. Some people will find it difficult to make a plan of the ground floor of their own house let alone an unfamiliar house, a building with several floors or their immediate neighbourhood! Their visual-spatial abilities have remained underdeveloped.

When our ability to orientate in space is not adequately developed, we find it difficult to ‘read’ and construct maps, schemes and plans. But the consequences are far broader than this. Children who have problems with visualisation will have difficulties with Geography, Technical Drawing, Science and Mathematics.

On the other hand, secure visual-spatial abilities help us to feel confident in our environment and facilitate practical problem-solving. Moreover, as our visual-spatial awareness grows, we learn to see what things look like from another’s perspective and to understand that this may differ from what we see from our own. This has profound implications not just for cognitive but also for social and emotional development.

So the development of visual-spatial awareness is an important part of achieving our full human potential. Nevertheless, most Early Childhood programs/curricula neglect it.

 

How does this module work?

The Visual-Spatial module focuses on helping children to orient themselves confidently in space, to acquire the vocabulary necessary for understanding and communicating relative spatial location (in front of/behind, to the left of/to the right of). They are offered opportunities to ‘read’ and create plans of different spaces (part of a room, a whole room, a house, their school, their garden, their neighbourhood). To do this, they use substitute shapes and later conventional symbols, assembled to form maps, schemes and plans. They learn about the function of such visual models as devices for recording precise information and conveying it to others. They learn to mark their position on such visual models. They learn to understand that what they see depends on where they are and on the direction of their gaze. And they learn that the same applies to what others see too.

 

The additional benefits of this module

Like all the other Key to Learning modules, the Visual-Spatial module deliberately and systematically sets out to help children acquire key cognitive processes. Throughout this module, the emphasis is on opportunities to explore the use of substitute shapes as well as conventional signs and symbols to represent what we see. There are also opportunities to explore how we can assemble these substitute shapes, signs and symbols to record real spatial relationships in the form of plans and maps. This focus makes the Visual-Spatial module a particularly rich resource for developing symbolisation and visual modelling. It supports an essential, but usually neglected, aspect of cognitive development.

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