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Why Is It Good For Young Children To Read Maps

Reading a map improves memory, critical thinking, analysis, orientation, problem-solving, and orientation.

Children as young as four years old can read maps, reveals a new study. Preschoolers can utilize a scale model to locate objects in the real world, researchers discovered.

Some smartwatches and phones for kids offer similar perks to those for adults – including GPS technology. It has been claimed they struggle with diagrams and symbols until at least the age of seven or eight.

But spatial ability skills begin much earlier – laying the foundations for learning maths and sciences.

A visually disabled Indian boy (R) reads the road map in Braille during a motor rally in New Delhi on April. 9, 2009.  Children can read simple maps from around the age of four, a new study suggests. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The discovery is based on 175 children aged between two and five years old asked to play a game They were shown a sticker hidden in a virtual room – then had to look for another in the ‘same place’ in an identical simulation.

Lead author Dr. Martin Doherty, of the University of East Anglia, said: “The two and three-year-olds were not able to recognize the spatial arrangements in the model rooms.

“But from about four years old, they were able to use one model room as a guide to finding the object in the other. This means children start to develop the basic skills that underly map reading from the age of four.

“Based on these findings we predict children can read simple maps from around the age of four. Extending our methods to maps would help resolve a controversial developmental question.”

The study resolves a debate about whether understanding models is a representational or spatial ability. It has been suggested that grabbing the concept of models shows an understanding of the former.

But Dr. Doherty and colleagues say their results indicate it’s the latter.

He said: “This tells us that map-reading may be cognitively simpler than previously thought.”

That is good news for those who fear we have become over-dependent on software. If your phone dies, and you are miles from civilization, it can save your life.

Family looking at a map at a  Summer Festival in Quebec City. Kids as young as four are able to utilize scale model to locate objects. JEFF GREENBERG/UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES

Learning how to read a map also helps in critical thinking, analysis, orientation, problem-solving and memory.

It is an important tool for building children’s spatial reasoning skills and helping them make sense of our world. It gives them a mental map of their world too.

The study is published in the journal Developmental Psychology.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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