In February 2020, I bought a daybed for my eight-year-old daughter. When it finally arrived that April, hiring someone to do in-home assembly simply wasn’t an option.
“Hey, do you want to do something awesomely hard with me?” I asked her. We unpackaged dozens of screws, dowels, slats — and an unfortunate set of picture-only instructions.
And as we spent hours fitting the pieces together, I thought about something spatial cognition expert Julie Dillemuth told me years ago: “We don’t really think about our spatial skills until we have to assemble a bookcase from IKEA.”
As adults, we use spatial skills every day without much reflection: loading the dishwasher, replacing batteries, driving to the store, merging into traffic, or even shooting some hoops.
But these aren’t skills we are born with — and that’s good news for our kids. Engineering professor Sheryl Sorby once told me, “A lot of people believe that spatial intelligence is a fixed quantity — that you either have good spatial skills or you don’t — but that’s simply not true.”
Why Do Kids Need Spatial Reasoning Skills?
It turns out that “spatial skills strongly predict who will go into STEM fields.”…