The Pattern Alphabet is the center of a pilot test in Tanzania, and we have expanded into spatial research to complement this testing. 

A powerful application of the Pattern ABC is as a learning tool for preschoolers to master spatial skills and relational thinking. Visual spatial patterns help language acquisition, early math and non-verbal logic, which is the trifecta for school readiness at 5. Leveling students’ readiness to learn impacts their initial and later success in school.

The Pattern ABC pilot for UNICEF is funded with a generous grant from the Radius Foundation, and is underway from April to June 2019. Testing is in Tanzania, one of the few countries where UNICEF began its preschool test metric standardization in 2015;  as part of a UN Sustainable Development Goal for 2030 of standardizing global preschool curricula and facilities.

Our researchers are from Blue Butterfly Collective and U. Maryland, and the project is managed by Kevin O’Connor, our children’s media expert. The pilot is based on activities I designed for 9 of the 32 patterns which can be done by 3-5 year olds as guided play. We hope to show how vital spatial skills are for school readiness and how the pattern ABC coheres the many spatial skills into one system, helping the child’s meta learning.

This is all before getting to the long term value many want from the system. Beyond being predictive of and enhancing STEAM abilities, spatial proficiency could double the number of engineers [see graph below, data based on Lubinski, Benbow (2009), and Wai (2011)].

We have read numerous studies on spatial learning over the last 18 months, and met with early childhood researchers to see how we can synthesize this into natural learning. Visual-spatial learning is the 1st pillar of preschool. So spiral, triangle and symmetry should come before ABC and 123 as patterns are learned by sight before by name or by number. We await our results from Tanzania to approach a pilot in another location.

Next month we’ll share our findings on the importance of spatial skills.