My almost 4 year old nephew is tackling the 2.1km white course. Any advice for the parents?
Bring snacks. Nothing like a little blood sugar booster when they get tired. Balancing fun with an intro to map reading is key. And be prepared to stomp in every puddle and throw rocks in every intermittent stream!
don't expect the 4-year old to do any orienteering or even have any interest in the map or the process---but that's okay. They will probably still have fun chasing leaves, wacking things with sticks, playing in the water, etc.
... but do expect him to start running to any and every orienteering flag once he gets it into his system that that's what you're looking for... Especially if there are those things that go beep ;)
Let him use the epunch. That's what gets them hooked. :-)
You can teach some orienteering, even at age 4 - put the map on the ground at every trail junction - point to where you are, point to which trail you should take to the get to the next circle, then ask them to point - and then match that up with the actual trail on the ground. AJ was first starting to make those connections himself, I think, at this event, that he did >75% of the time on foot himself: http://www.dvoa.org/events/results/ev_show.php?eve...
- age 3 years, 3 months.
I like the putting the map on the ground idea. I think we'll use that to help teach orienting the map with Peter (he's fine once it's oriented). Thanks, Wyatt!
Spatial relationships are definitely within kids' grasp quite young, especially if they understand what roads/trails/buildings/water features look like. Jon was updating the West Point map when Anna was 3. He would show her a few known points (post exchange, commissary) and then ask where we parked our car, and she could point to the parking lot. Ok, here's our house, here's the road we drive up the hill, where's the playground? She points to the playground. The first few times, we thought it was luck. After about a dozen repetitions, we realized she was really reading and understanding the map.
Then again, Anna had little interest in focusing on reading the map for an entire course until she was 7 and found out she could compete in WIOL, but only if she could navigate all by herself. We got a bit more serious at that point (no rock-throwing or collecting critters on the clock).
If only I had picked up spatial relationships that quickly as an adult learning to O!