Do you remember being a kid and learning how to use a compass for the first time? If you weren’t in the Scouts, your mom or dad probably took you into the backyard or a nearby wood and taught you all about how to find your way out of anywhere with a simple hand-held device. Today, that device has evolved into an electronic gadget that many would be lost without; a hand-held GPS, or Global Positioning System.
Teaching Kids About GPS
Thinking you should teach your son or daughter how to use a GPS but not sure where to begin? Why not try an activity that has a practical application, such as geocaching? If you’re not familiar with geocaching, you’re missing out on a fast-growing worldwide GPS-guided treasure hunt. Using coordinates provided, participants search for a cache containing various contents, anything from a simple logbook to an ammo box loaded with trinkets to trade. Honing in on those coordinates with a hand-held GPS is more than half the battle, so how to start?
The number one rule in teaching your child how to use a hand-held GPS is to have fresh batteries in the unit! Nothing is more frustrating (or boring) for a kid than to have dead batteries in anything. Don’t make this deadly mistake by taking a moment or two to be sure you have enough power to get through your lesson beforehand. Believe me, nothing will dampen your child’s interest faster than having to stop and replace batteries.
Hand-Held GPS for Geocaching
The next thing to remember is to be patient. As much as kids seem to be inherently drawn to electronics, it will take them a bit of time to pick-up on all the ways a Hand-held GPS can work, and depending on your model, its’ features. Let your son or daughter hold the GPS as you explain what things are and how the various button work. They’ll be sure to pay more attention to what you’re saying if they hold it and feel as if they’re in control. Be sure to maintain your patience throughout your hike or GPS treasure hunt.
Walk slowly as you approach the geocache, allowing the child to see the Global Positioning System change directions and coordinates. Not only will this teach them some patience of their own, but they will feel accomplished as the satellite shows them they’re getting closer to finding the treasure! Walking slowly helps you both avoid overstepping and becoming frustrated with the quick change in direction.
Don’t rush. Enjoy this precious time out in the woods with your son or daughter; you’re out in the fresh air using a valuable navigational tool. Teaching a child how to use a hand-held GPS is giving them knowledge they’ll use their whole life, whether driving a car, riding in a boat, enjoying an outdoor sport or even finding treasure!