Geography isn’t necessarily thought of an important subject by most Americans. As a matter of fact, Americans tend to perform poorly in geography tests, despite the fact that America has a preeminent place in global affairs. However, as the world becomes more and more interdependent, it’s becoming clear that a grasp of geography will become central to the lives of your children – if it isn’t the case already.
Instilling a love of geography in your children will allow them to easily develop an idea of their place in the world community, as well as a better understanding of how events and cultural patterns emerge. It’s also a valuable foundation for helping them understand both social and environmental systems that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Ultimately, an appreciation of geography is key not in just helping your child become better-rounded individuals, but better global citizens as well. Here are some ways you can help your young child better understand geography.
1.) Give them a world map
Find or print out a world map and give them to your child. You can set it up on a board and give them push pins or markers so they’re able to mark the countries they’re interested in. If you’re traveling to another city, state, or country with your child, this can give them a good idea of distances and boundaries as well.
2.) Print out a flag coloring book
The study of the history, symbolism, and usage of flags, known as vexillology, is an important part of geography and is an interesting subject in its own right as well. It’s an especially appealing subject for young children as the variety of colors, shapes, and logos in different world flags are a good way to stimulate both their creativity and their understanding of different countries and cultures.
Flags are also ideal for coloring books, and you can find a lot of printable flags online for free. Check out these printable flags of Africa coloring book by Carrot Ink.
3.) Give them an illustrated world atlas for children
A children’s atlas will give your children a curated, age-appropriate way of learning about geography that they could go through at their own pace. You can also go through it together for some quality bonding time.
A good world atlas for children shouldn’t be too in depth, but still provide loads of fun facts about the world and its different cultures. The illustrations should be fun and engaging and the text in simple-to-read language so your child can understand the contents by themselves.
We recommend that you find a printed atlas rather than use a tablet for this, as there are studies that suggest paper books are read more comfortably and help people retain information better than tablets. The shared reading experience also tends to be warmer and more enjoyable with paper books compared to tablets.
4.) Help them connect with a pen pal from overseas
Yes, pen pals still exist! Even in this age of instant communication, people still appreciate the warmth that comes from a handwritten letter – even if it’s from a friend you may never even meet. Your child will find that writing to a pen pal from another country will force them to consider how to communicate with people from other cultures, which can be an invaluable lesson in itself.
Sites like Students of the World and Pen Pal World are just two of many safe resources online where you can find a pen pal for your child from the countries you’re learning about.