Whether or not you’d like your child to become a future engineer, the way you or his yaya describe the size, shape or structure or other physical traits of objects can already shape his spatial intelligence during his early years.
In fact, according to a recent study, if kids’ caregivers keep mentioning certain words, then preschoolers will tend to have higher marks in tests on their spatial skills. Spatial intelligence, if nurtured enough, does have its benefits. For instance, science, technology and mathematics rely heavily on a sound knowledge of spatial terms and concepts.
Researchers from the University of Chicago videotaped 52 children between 14 months and 46 months old, as well as 52 caregivers in Chicago. They recorded how the caregivers would interact with the children during everyday activities, 90-minute sessions spread out every 4 months.
Based on the sessions, the researchers took note of certain words that the caregivers used to illustrate two and three-dimensional objects, such as “triangle” or “circle”, or “tall” to describe the sizes of objects. Words such as “bent”, “edge” and “corner” were also used to describe the features of things.
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When the researchers put together all the sessions, they found out that the caregivers (usually the moms) mentioned five to 525 spatial words, and on average 167 words associated with spatial concepts.
During the entire period, the children in the study used on average 4 to 191 words, 74 of them spatial. The researchers also discovered that for every 45 additional spatial words that the child used and repeated during everyday activities, there was a corresponding 23 percent increase in their marks for spatial tests.