By navigation skills, we mean the ability to ascertain one’s own place or position in space as well as plan and follow a route. For kids, it’s a matter of understanding where you are, where you’ve come from and where you need to go. Kids who can navigate can find their way to and from school or across a park, neighborhood or other familiar area. They develop strategies like establishing familiar objects or landmarks and taking time to note which paths they’ve traveled, and they can both follow known paths and chart new paths with confidence.
Why does it matter?
There are lots of reasons why teaching them to find their own way benefits kids, not least of which is safety. We all fear the moment that our child wanders too far and gets lost. So, it's important to train your child to be mindful of where he is and, hopefully, to find his way if and when lost.
That, however, is not the primary reason to teach navigation. 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 code, or traveling the world competently to learn about new people and places. As they navigate, kids also practice ways to tag and remember information about the environment, increasing both the strength and flexibility of their memory. The ability to move around competently also leads to more opportunities to develop key skills like leadership, self esteem and self reliance.