Physical Play and Mental Development
What do painting portraits, solving the Rubik’s Cube, and building with Lego have in common? One might say all are fun—which is actually not incorrect—but more importantly, they require a skill called spatial-relation gift. Such gift is also called visual thinking, or the ability to understand three-dimensional images and shapes, and recognize their connection to surrounding objects as mentioned by Professor Thomas Armstrong in his Multiple Intelligences book.
Your child’s first few years are crucial in building a stable foundation for proper growth and mental development, which includes enhancing his gift in visual thinking. This is significant in solving daily tasks up to adulthood, such as navigating one’s way through an unknown location and deciding which box best packs as many items as possible.
Here are fun ways to develop your child's gift in visual thinking:
Encourage him to explore the world hands-on. Take a walk around your neighborhood and gather pebbles, twigs, and leaves along the way. Give him time to feel their different shapes and textures.
Put a fun twist to spelling and geometry 101—teach it by experience. Form words and shapes using materials at home such as straws, yarn, and cotton then glue them onto cardboards. Through the sense of touch, your child can imagine the shape of an object and how it is formed.
Remember the stuff you collected from your surroundings? When you get home, ask your child to sort similar items into a group. You may also gather materials at home such as differently shaped uncooked pasta, multi-colored utensils, or graphic socks and have him arrange them according to color, shape, or pair. This develops their visual ability to spot similarities and differences in objects.
Introduce your child to visual vocabulary by using keywords that refer to space-related properties: big or small, thick or thin, circular or rectangular, straight or curved, smooth or rough, and over or under. Ask simple questions that promote visual thinking. “Will the groceries fit this bag?,” “When you cut a toast in half, what shape does it create?,” and “Can you fit your pillow in this pillowcase?” are good starters.
Inspire your preschooler to be a master architect through structured block play. Show a blueprint of a building and give him a set of blocks to recreate it. You may also create a simple map of your home to show where a treasure is hidden and have your child find it based on the marked spot. These are exciting ways to boost mental rotation or the ability to visualize an object in a different orientation.
For your child’s development, make sure he gets the nutrition he needs as well alongside a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to support proper growth and mental development.
PROMIL® FOUR is a powdered formula milk drink for children over 3 years old. It is not suitable for use as a breast milk substitute.
Multiple intelligences in the classroom 3rd ed by Thomas Armstrong