Experiences with spatial toys such as blocks, puzzles, and shape games, and the spatial words and gestures they evoke from adults, have a significant influence on the early development of spatial skills. Spatial skills are important for success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and are related to mathematics performance as early as age 3 (Toub, Verdine, Hirsh-Pasek & Golinkoff, under review). Due to the amount of time that many young children spend with their parents, making parents aware of the importance of spatial skills may be paramount to increasing children’s readiness for mathematics. Additionally, increasing access to a preschool “spatial education” both in and out of school constitutes a safe bet for fueling school readiness and igniting long-term performance gains in STEM-related fields (Verdine, Golinkoff, Hirsh-Pasek, & Newcombe, 2014).
The Test of Spatial Assembly (TOSA) was created specifically as an assessment for 3-year-olds. Our research has used the TOSA to investigate links among spatial skills, executive functioning (EF), and mathematical skills earlier than previously possible. We found that EF is an important predictor of math performance, and that spatial skills uniquely predict mathematics as well. Our findings indicate that both spatial and EF skills are part of an important foundation for mathematics performance and may represent pathways for improving school readiness for mathematics (Verdine, Irwin, Golinkoff, & Hirsh-Pasek, 2014).
Some representative publications:
Toub, T. S., Verdine, B., Hirsh-Pasek, K. & Golinkoff, R. M. (Under review). Blocks, puzzles and origami: From spatial play to STEM learning. OECD handbook.Verdine, B. N., Irwin, C. M., Golinkoff, R. M., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2014). Contributions of executive function and spatial skills to preschool mathematics achievement. Journal of experimental child psychology, 126, 37-51.Verdine, B., Golinkoff, R. M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Newcombe, N. (2014). Finding the missing piece: blocks, puzzles, and shapes fuel school readiness. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 3, 7-13.