Geography can be loads more fun for a child than you can possible imagine. All they need is a little encouragement and a guide in the right direction.
Studying geography is about so much more than being able to point out a country on a map and reel off its capitals! It’s about being curious and exploring and making sense of how our world is so vibrantly different. Young children are naturally exposed to this and are inquisitive about their surroundings, quite happy to explore and take in every experience they have. And they’re always asking a million questions as well!
But if you’ve ever struggled to bring out their inquisitive side or find that they’re not curious enough in school, following some of these steps might help you.
It all starts at home
The world is way larger seen through the eyes of a young child. Take a field trip to nearby landmarks, mountains, a river or stream and allow them to explore what’s around them. Experiencing a natural environment first hand, allows them to be more inquisitive about the world in general, and you can progress to larger areas.
If you’re taking a trip on a bike, scratch off areas you’ve been together on a map, so you can progress to your next challenge a bit further away. As you finish any one place, ask them to name something interesting they saw or did on that particular trip.
If travelling too far from home is problematic, take a walk down to your public library or museum, where you’ll find a wealth of resource on local knowledge. Most local libraries will have information on walks you can take together, pictures and photographs of your neighbourhood over time.
Plan holidays together
Planning a holiday with kids in mind can be nerve-wracking but one way to develop their sense of interest in any location is to involve them early. When you’ve decided where your family is headed, get a set of colourful push pins and a pinboard mounted map let them identify where you’re headed. One fun activity is to mark a route with some coloured string between one push pin and another. This will give them an idea of how scale works, inches or centimetres to every mile.
Use the right words
It’s also important to discuss locations with them using the right language. Give them directional cues when describing the location such as ‘north to Edinburgh, or ‘travelling West to Nan’s house.’ When they get used to this kind of language, give them a subtle test every now and then, by asking them which way they should be going to get to a location, if you were to take a bus, or walk or cycle. You’re obviously not going to get directions, most adults struggle with them, let alone young children! What you’re looking for is some recognition of scale and time, and distance. Listen carefully to what they say and be patient if they are wrong.
Globe-trotting recipes to sample
One of the best ways to introduce a new culture is to introduce a new diet to a child. As with the holiday planning, this will work amazing if you do it together. Pick one day of every week, to plan a meal for them from a part of the world they’ve not tried before. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a complete meal, you could start with just a pudding. A fun way to get them involved is to use a map to mark off where that particular food comes from and then seek more information about that country.
Most world food aisles in supermarkets are well stocked with options to sample, and if they get fussy, rest assured you’ve got a lot to choose from!
Let there be Maps
It goes without saying that maps, globes and atlases can play an integral role in a child’s curiosity and development. You can choose from a range of kids map gifts on our website, to find the best map for you. Even the everyday play and experiences of children gives them a basis for geographic knowledge contained in a map. Pick a location on a map, and show your child something about that region, whether it’s the flags, an interesting piece of trivia, or even it’s currency type.