How to develop spatial reasoning skills with dog pose

downward dog landscape

Developing spatial reasoning skills with dog pose

This blog post explains what spatial reasoning skills are and why they are important. It also looks at how we can help our children develop these skills using yoga.


What is spatial reasoning?

“Spatial reasoning involves the ability to locate and move our bodies and objects around us, in space, either physically or in our ‘mind’s eye'”
(National Research Council, 2006).

When a baby makes their first movements they are developing spatial reasoning skills.
More complex spatial reasoning skills include:

  • The ability to identify & handle differently shaped objects and possibly change the way they look
  • Understanding how objects and our own bodies/body parts relate to one another in space


Why is spatial reasoning important?

Spatial reasoning skills are thought to be particularly important for many careers. People working in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields are thought to have good spatial reasoning skills. Spatial thinking is also important for architecture, graphic design, computer sciences, biology, physics, chemistry, geology, geography and even medicine. All of these require strong spatial reasoning skills. Therefore it is helpful to develop these skills as early as possible in life.

We know spatial skills can be taught and grow with practice and we know that spatial skills predict whether or not kids pursue STEM careers
Julie Dillemuth (spatial cognition geographer & children’s author)

Furthermore, spatial reasoning and skills can be learnt and improved with practice, says Heather Burte, PhD (post-doctoral researcher in Psychology).

Encourage & develop a young child’s spatial reasoning by:

  • Offering plenty of opportunities for physical play. Moving your body gives a deeper understanding of its dimensions & how it relates to objects & other people
  • Using gestures as you talk, i.e. drawing circles in the air as you talk about the ’round’ apple
  • Including ‘spatial’ words in your speech as you play, i.e. ‘up’ , ‘down’ , ‘inside’ & ‘upside down’



Spatial reasoning skills with dog pose

Using dog pose to promote spatial reasoning

Doing dog pose and using words to describe it will help your child develop their spatial reasoning skills.

When your child does dog pose they will be exploring the space around them in a different way. This helps to develop their early spatial understanding.
As you do dog pose with your young child, you could talk about:

  • Being ‘upside down’
  • Lifting your paw, or tail, ‘up’ in the air or putting it ‘down’ on the mat
  • Waving your tails ‘side’ to ‘side’
  • The shape your bodies are making – triangles?

Finally, enjoy this time exploring the space around you, making your body into an unusual shape and using your imaginations to play and learn together.


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