10 Reasons You Should Teach Your Kids to Track Mammals

Yes, that’s right! I’m a firm believer in teaching kids how to observe and track mammals before even teaching them to read. Here’s why . . .

  1. Easier Than Letters! – They are easier than letters and teach kids to remember the shape of an object, jump-starting them on much more challenging letter-recognition.
  2. Cool! – The are engaging and cool to kids!
  3. Place-Based Learning –They allow kids to learn first-hand about the animals in their backyard. Connecting kids to their own local environment is essential to connecting to nature and opening up a cornucopia of benefits. Reading books about distant lions, zebras, and elephants is all very interesting, but without a knowledge of place, their curiosity and passion for nature and science probably won’t be ignited – or will fizzle and die only to be replaced by fast-paced computer games.                                                                                                                                 Without studying tracking, I’d bet many preschoolers living in my own city don’t realize there are coyotes, bears, mink, and long-tailed weasels living in this part of Virginia. Heck, I didn’t even know they lived here until I began to study nature awareness and tracking under the guidance of a mentor in college! Teaching kids to spot and recognize tracks teaches them which mammals live near their home first-hand – and they MUST know which mammals live in their community in order to be a good tracker, pushing them to build memorization skills early, which will make learning and memorization easier in school. How cool is that!
  4. Grows a Love of the Outdoors! – It fosters enthusiasm for the outdoors and builds memories of family fun in nature, keeping them off the couch more often for the remainder of their lives.
  5. Science! – It fosters a love of science. Kids often fall in love with dinosaurs in the preschool years. Paleontology is a form of tracking. Strike that iron when it’s hot and teach them tracking in your backyard!
  6. Builds Observation Skills – They teach kids to be observant – an important critical thinking skill that will help with reading comprehension.
  7. Builds Empathy – They teach kids empathy because pretending to be an animal is an essential part of tracking in order to understand what the animal is doing and why.
  8. Grows Imagination –They help grow a great imagination since you must picture the animal that passed through in order to be a great tracker.
  9. The Art of Questioning – They teach kids to ask questions, growing their interest in learning about the world around them.
  10. Fun for the Whole Family! – It’s a great activity the whole family can do close to home, solidifying family bonds in a deep way where no one is the “teacher” since you’re all on an adventure of discovery and clue-hunting together.

 

I hope your excited about tracking! I sure am! I LOVE tracking . . . it’s one of those things that just makes me smile for no reason.

And, I want you to know that regardless of your current tracking skills, you can help your kids learn. Grab a field guide from your library and head out to a muddy or sandy area. You can do this! It’s our birthright to track mammals – something that has allowed us to survive and thrive throughout the world as early humans.

And, kids can learn animal tracks with surprising ease. My rising Kindergartener can already recognize, or at least guess the right family of, most perfect tracks in mud with ease, so teaching preschoolers tracking is doable, kids love it, and it’s SO MUCH FUN for grown-ups too!!! It’s much more fun than pushing your kid on a swing at the playground! So get outside and find some tracks!

 

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