Allowing children to explore away from home can improve navigation confidence

Key points

  • When allowed to explore further away from home, children will grow up to become more proficient and confident.
  • Men report that compared with women, they have more freedom to explore their surroundings during childhood and have less anxiety about finding their way as adults.

Most parents and caregivers are trying to build confidence in their children-but how?According to published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Significance, Allowing children to explore further places at home may help achieve this goal.

Especially when adults are often expected to sail in different environments, the confidence to find their own way can be especially helpful.

Just as exploring the surrounding environment can develop a sense of direction, these early learning experiences usually affect problem-solving abilities, and these abilities are usually necessary for future adults to thrive.

Understand the research

In this study, 159 undergraduates completed a series of questionnaires about their childhood wayfinding experiences, navigation methods, and any related anxiety at the University of Miami.

The survey results show that men tend to use directional strategies more, while women report more use of route strategies. Overall, men report that their navigation skills are more comfortable because they are more often encouraged to explore further away from home-this may be a factor of safety and gender norms.

Some limitations of this study include small sample size and reliance on self-reports of childhood experiences without any observations.

Safety is the key

Dr. Sarah Allen, a pediatric neuropsychologist at CBIS and the executive director of Brain Behavior Bridge, said: “As a field, we have long known that men tend to use directional strategies (that is, north, south, east, and west) and women tend to Use items at the location (ie turn left at Walmart), this research confirms this.”

Although it may be easy to think about, Allen reminds readers not to assume that all children should be a few miles away from home, because this study did not involve safety issues. “It is also done among college students and relies on their memory of what they were able to do as a child. We know that retrospective memory is not always accurate,” she said.

Allen said: “This shows that the farther away people are from home when they are running errands or exploring, the less anxiety they have about new routes as adults, and the more likely they are to use directional strategies. It also shows that the more we let children explore The surrounding environment, the less anxiety they have about the future world. In addition, they are more likely to develop a direction vs. location strategy, which may help them find their way more in adulthood.”

Sarah Allen, PhD, CBIS

It shows that when people run errands or explore as a child, the farther away they are from home, the less anxiety they have about new routes as an adult, and they are more likely to use directional strategies.

— Sarah Allen, PhD, CBIS

According to Allen, children should be encouraged to safely explore their environment by running errands or playing treasure hunts, because this is not just outside, but exploring outside. “Continuous contact and learning can improve our navigation skills and reduce our children’s anxiety about exploring the world, thereby potentially enhancing the connections in our brains,” she said.

Age-appropriate learning shapes adult development

Dr. Amy Nasamran, a licensed psychologist, founder of Atlas Psychology, and Michigan State University researcher, said: “The conclusion of this study is that early learning experiences are important and can affect our lives as we grow up. Cognitive and emotional development.”

Although early learning experiences are an opportunity for exploration, Nasamran emphasized their importance for enhancing the sense of success and competence, because the most effective way to resolve anxiety is to face situations, experience them, and learn from them. “Although it may be tempting to protect and protect our children, providing age-appropriate learning opportunities is very important to develop them into well-rounded, confident and capable adults,” she said.

Nasamran said: “The research on gender differences in learning has a long history. Although it is generally believed that men and women have no difference in general intelligence, some studies have shown that men and women have some differences in specific abilities. For example, over time Over time, research has shown that men and women have the greatest difference in visual spatial ability, because men tend to outperform women in this regard.”

Although it is easy to automatically assume that these gender differences are based on biology, Nasamran explained that social and cultural factors may be at play. “It is worth noting that the researchers in this study found that boys and girls have no difference in spatial ability at the age of 3, but there are differences in late childhood and adulthood, indicating that they may be influenced by culture and society,” she Say.

Nasamran said: “Another caveat of this study is that the researchers did not study the reasons behind women’s more anxiety; they could not conclude that it was simply because of fear of getting lost or other reasons, and cultural and social factors are related to the fact that women are in unfamiliar places. It plays an important role in experiencing more anxiety than men.”

Given her background as a psychologist in the school system, Nasamran has witnessed how the teaching and practice of skills can bridge the gap in learning differences between different student groups. “Research also shows that if there are equal learning opportunities, girls can develop the same visuospatial skills as men,” she said.

Nasamran said: “Parents can play an important role in this learning process by providing children of all genders with equal learning opportunities suitable for their age. Helping children to succeed through learning opportunities can also cultivate their sense of autonomy and confidence, and inspire them to continue. Learn and improve their skills.”

Dr. Amy Nasamran

By providing children of all genders with equal learning opportunities suitable for their age, parents can play an important role in this learning process.

—Amy Nasamran, PhD

What this means to you

As this research shows, allowing children to explore their surroundings may increase confidence in navigation skills. Parents can allow their children to safely explore their communities, including walking to school, shops, or meeting friends, thereby increasing their confidence in them. This early learning experience that fosters independence can pave the way for a greater sense of autonomy in adulthood.