I am, admittedly, directionally challenged. However, through spending enough time with Brian, who is naturally wired for moving within space, I've learned to be a navigator. It’s our desire that our children or yours will not have to wait until adulthood to do the same. Although we can't implant compasses or GPS in our kids' heads (yet), we can model and teach them the basics of navigation. Kids are surprisingly sophisticated when given the chance to navigate outdoors—especially if you show them a technique or two!
Teaching young kids to find their own way benefits kids in many ways, not least of which is safety. We all fear the moment that our child wanders too far and gets lost. It's quite valuable to train kids to be mindful of where they are and, eventually, to find their way if and when lost.
But this is not the primary reason to teach navigation. When kids practice identifying where they are, where they are going and where they've been, they build key skills including the ability to attend to and notice their surroundings. This ability to focus one's attention is a skill closely tied with success in school and in life. Kids also practice ways to tag and remember information, increasing both the strength and flexibility of their memory. Kids are both thrilled and proud about finding their own way, helping develop self reliance.
Finally, when kids learn to navigate the real world, they develop a sense of how to move through space. This is an increasingly important capacity that they'll call on throughout their life—examples include working within systems, writing computer programs, or to travel the world competently to learn about new people and places.
We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!Email it to me