Performance 6 min read

3 Ways To Upgrade Spatial Awareness And Improve Critical Thinking

by Shannon Terrell November 20, 2018

We use spatial awareness each and every day without realizing it. Driving a vehicle? That requires spatial awareness. Pouring a cup of coffee? That requires spatial awareness, too.

The real question is: how well developed are your spatial skills? Or better yet: how can you use these skills to improve your life?

Let’s examine how spatial perception works, why it matters, and how you can supercharge yours to improve your critical thinking.

What Is Spatial Perception?


Spatial awareness, or spatial perception, is awareness of your physical environment. This awareness extends beyond your physical body to include all the objects that surround you in your environment.

Spatial perception goes by a number of different names: spatial reasoning, spatial awareness — heck, even Gardner’s spatial intelligence, part of his theory of nine types of intelligence — is on the list.

But no matter what name you give it, spatial skill is an inherent part of our daily lives, and it’s a skill we must continually strengthen and develop to keep our critical thinking skills sharp.

spatial ability

Why Is Spatial Awareness Important?

Spatial awareness is important for a number of reasons. It’s a cognitive skill we first begin to develop as children and carry on with us well into our adult years.

Spatial awareness helps us understand how to move and interact with our environment.

If you want to see spatial awareness in action, look no further than the work of a pilot. Pilots must possess exceptional spatial intelligence to navigate planes through the air and land them with such dexterous precision.

Another great example of spatial intelligence can be found in the work of graphic designers and architects. Having knowledge of spatial relationships can help you design and build incredible things.

 

Not only does spatial awareness help teach us how to navigate the world, but it also strengthens important parallel thinking skills, such as critical reasoning, logical analysis, and creative problem solving skills.

What Is A Spatial Awareness Test?

If you’re curious to find out how your spatial reasoning ranks, give a spatial awareness test a try.

Spatial awareness test helps you explore your spatial skills by having you to manipulate three-dimensional objects. It may sound easy, but it’s more challenging than you’d think!

spatial skills

How Do You Develop Spatial Awareness?


Spatial awareness is a skill that can be built on. Everyone possesses it — it’s all a matter of what you want to work on.

After all, intelligence isn’t about what you’re born with. It’s about what you learn along the way.

All behavior is belief driven. Learning is your superpower, but it’s not a spectator sport.

— Jim Kwik, Author of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Program 

So, if you’re looking to level up your spatial awareness, here are three tricks to try:

tangram_puzzle

1. Try A Tangram Puzzle

Tangrams are dissectional puzzles made up of seven distinct shapes called tans. When put together, the seven tans create a larger shape.

You might have played a Tangram puzzle or two when you were a kid, as they’re often found in elementary school classrooms. These puzzles are totally timeless and definitely help improve spatial skills.

2. Go For A Photo Walk

Taking a well-composed photo requires spatial awareness, so why not go outside and practice your photography skills?

Practice looking through the lens and focusing on different objects in the foreground and background. Take your time and pay attention to the composition of each frame.

3. Play A First-Person Video Game

First-person video games encourage the brain to quickly process visual information. And not only do these games strengthen spatial reasoning but they may also have other cognitive and therapeutic benefits.

A recent study discovered that video games may actually stimulate the growth of new brain cells, as well as strengthen activity in the hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum.

All the more reason to kick back and enjoy some time with your favorite games, right?


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So, what’s your favorite way to work on your spatial awareness? Let us know in the comments below.

by Shannon Terrell
Shannon Terrell is a writer based in Toronto, Canada. She revels in the thrill of exploration, whether it be new cultures, new landscapes, or new ways to bring on the happy. If she’s not hiking or practicing yoga, she probably has her nose in a book.

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