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Reading Maps and Learning Directions

How to Become More Navigationally Savvy

Most people learn by doing – if it were possible to learn simply by watching others, teaching teens to drive would be much easier than it is. However, we all know that watching someone drive and actually driving are two very different things, lending itself to the argument “we learn by doing.” The same principle can be applied to learning how to read directions or interpret a map – even though you have driven your teen to school 100 times, they probably couldn’t give you good directions. Here are some tips to help young drivers and even experienced ones become far more directionally savvy.

Know North, South, East and West

There was likely a point in school when you were taught directions using some kind of acronym like “Never Eat Sour Watermelon” or “Never Eat Shredded Wheat.” While it is easy to identify north, south, east, and west on a map, knowing which way is which at any given time can be a challenge. A great way to learn about direction is by starting with the roads around where you live and understanding which directions the local roads run – for example, you turn onto Main Street, which you know runs east-west.

Learn to Follow Written Directions

Following directions is another skill that not many drivers have, especially young drivers. Being able to follow written directions is a great skill to have, even with the availability of technology for turn-by-turn directions. A good exercise to try is writing down directions to a local location and having young drivers identify the street signs and make the correct turns to get to where they’re going. Another good exercise is having directions to the location but no directions home, making teens retrace their steps.

Understand Map Reading

While turn-by-turn directions with GPS are great for the unexpected detour, the technology rarely outlines all of the possible alternate routes that can be taken. This is why map reading, even in the 21st century, is still important. This begins by teaching drivers how to figure out where they are on a map at any given time and then having them plot a route to their location. A great exercise for this is to drive to a random location, have teens identify where they are on the map, and also outline the route they would have to take to get back home or to get to their next destination. Again, learning by doing.

Are you or your teen in need of Behind the Wheel Training? Training Wheels is an Egg Harbor City driving school specializing in teaching new teen drivers how to stay safe on the road. For more information on our lessons, please click here.

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