How Orienteering Helps Kids Develop Executive Functioning Skills
Orienteering is an exciting sport that challenges kids both mentally and physically.
Participants are required to navigate their way around a course using a special orienteering map. Courses vary in difficulty based on age and experience. They range from 1.5 km up to 15km and take from 10 minutes to 90 minutes to complete. Beginners and young children are very welcome!
Settings for orienteering include parks, schools, urban areas, forests and even farmland. While it’s a race to complete the course as quickly as possible, participants can move at their own pace and set their own goals. Competitors work on their own or in small groups. You can find more information about events in your area by contacting your local orienteering club.
Here are some benefits of orienteering for kids.
Orienteering participants are given a detailed map and as they become more advanced, a compass. They are required to reach each control point on the map. A control point is simply a waypoint market with a bright flag or kite.
Maps show only the set control points and it’s up to participants to work out the quickest route to each point in the correct order. Decisions they have to make include what direction to move in, and whether to climb a hill or go around it. This is excellent for helping children develop strong problem-solving skills.
Organisation and Planning
Plotting out which route to take requires organisation and planning. Kids need to carefully plan each step they will take, while remaining flexible if unexpected obstacles appear.
Orienteering helps children to develop a more analytical mindset because they are required to think ahead and consider a range of outcomes. This is vital for learning how to organise and plan effectively.
Attention to Detail
Many students struggle when it comes to attention to detail. Orienteering can help with this because participants must pay very close attention when searching for landmarks and control points.
In addition, students also learn how to read a map and compass. This involves close attention to detail and develops their ability to retain and draw on information.
Participants in this sport must learn to deal with frustration and disappointment. For instance, they may choose an incorrect route and have to turn back or make a wrong decision that costs them the race.
Competitors are required to think and act under pressure, and this is an ideal learning opportunity for kids. Gaining the skills to keep their composure while dealing with setbacks, problems and pressure will help them develop excellent self-control.
To self-monitor, a child needs to have the ability to evaluate their own performance on a task and self-correct when needed. Orienteering is perfect for developing this executive functioning skill because it requires constant reflection and correction.
After completing a course, participants can also review their decisions and work out where they could have done better. This allows them to make better choices next time and builds their self-monitoring skills.
Orienteering is a wonderful sport for kids!