Survival Skill: Situational Awareness
How to teach kids, through games.
Being aware of your surroundings help dictate your own actions in navigating personal emergencies like getting lost or separated from a parent. It also helps when identifying someone or something that is in danger or that is a threat to safety, when something strays from the "norm." Teaching kids to identify what is "normal" will help them identify anomaly situations. Emergencies are anomaly situations. For example, it's normal for people and pets to walk on the side walk or the side of the road. If you see a dog walking down the middle of the street, you know that it's likely someones pet that might be lost and is in danger of getting hit by a car. A blue sky with a white fluffy clouds is an indicator of good whether, but a big gust of wind and a large dark ominous cloud could mean an impending storm and that it's time to get to shelter.
A few more examples of how your kid will be better prepared with strong situational awareness:
In case of a fire in a movie theater, they will be more likely to know where the exits are. If someone is a store is having a heart attack, they'll identify that something is wrong and know which adults are employees to alert them of the situation quickly. When crossing a stream, they would be more aware of what rocks are slippery and unstable. If your child gets lost, they'll have one of the tools needed to find their way home. Each of these activities can be adjusted to fit the appropriate age and maturity level of your children.
- Have your kids "drive" home by giving you specific directions. They may start by saying "quick! turn left" and eventually use street names ahead of time.
- Wherever you are, have them look around for 30 seconds and then describe everything they saw. Take five steps and describe anything new they see.
- Have them close their eyes and describe what someone in the room is wearing. Rather than saying "a red shirt and blue pants" encourage them with questions to describe more. Perhaps "A red shirt with stripes and a collar and blue jeans that have a tear in the knee."
- Identify store clerks vs. shoppers and park rangers vs. tourists.
- Turn your phone number and address into a song, and practice singing it.
- Play a game of "what if..." with a mix of silly things and more serious. "What if you see a purple donkey in the restaurant, what do you do." "What if you see an older person struggling to open a door..." "What if you encounter a snake..."
- In the back yard or living room, tell them to look all around, then blindfold them to walk from point A to point B. (Lots of giggles with this one!)
- See how many exits you can count when in a store or other building.
- When on a hike, point out potential animal habitats or before crossing a stream, choose their path and describe which rocks might be most difficult to stand on.