Spatial relationships can be explained using puzzles. For example, your child is working on a four-piece chunky shaped puzzle, and in order for the puzzle to fit together your child has to move around one puzzle piece to see how it fits next to another. Your child is moving the piece and changing its location within the given space that is the puzzle board. Your child will use trial and error to discover how things move and fit.
Toddlers learn about spatial relationships in a variety of ways, such as by spending time exploring toys in their environment. When playing with a ball, your child will see how the ball can roll into places that are small and that may make it difficult for her to reach with her hands. This is your child learning the relationship between her, an object (the ball), and the space around her.
There are so many simple things you can do to support your child’s spatial development, such as giving her a ball to explore. As your baby plays with her blocks or watches you roll a ball to her, she is learning about spatial relationships. You can also ask your child to point to her nose, and then follow up by saying, “Your nose is on your face,” and “Your nose is on the front of your head,” and “Your nose is above your lips.” Using words like on and above supports your child’s use of spatial language. Some other examples of spatial language words you can use are under, over, on top, and next to.
For example, give your child opportunities to climb and jump so she’ll learn how she can move up and down stairs. Set up an obstacle course using sheets and pillows; this will allow her to go over, under, around, and through different objects, and help her label how she is moving. Say, “You went under the table, and now you are going around the chair.”
As your child continues to develop language skills, make sure to use spatial language words as part of your daily routine. Supporting your child’s understanding of spatial relationships will help your child be successful in a number of areas such as reading and math, as well as aid her in following directions.