Geography for Kids

One April, my class of adult learners discussed the work of cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget.  When I mentioned he was Swiss, the students’ blank looks jolted me.

I pulled down a wall map.  “Who can show us where Switzerland is?”  There were no takers, until one of the younger members of the class offered to identify the country.

 Show your child how to find Paris on a map

“I think it’s up around here,” he said, his index finger traveling from Norway to Sweden. “At least, it used to be.”

This wasn’t funny, it was shocking.  As an educator teaching students who wanted to be teachers, it was my responsibility to address this. We spent the remaining classes of the semester using maps and globes , learning geography–states, countries, continents, landforms, oceans, latitude, longitude, and more.

How much geography does your child know? Geography for kids is basic knowledge, but with crowded curriculum today, teachers are lucky to squeeze it in.

This topic begins in early childhood and builds throughout elementary school.  By grades 3 or 4, children should know the basics. Next time you visit your child’s classroom find out if they have maps and globes.  Some schools that are squeezed for resources don’t have these.

When you support the learning of geography at home, do these 4 simple things:

  1. Hang a large world map in your home, at child height.
  2. Talk about maps, use them, play games with them, use your finger to identify places and landforms.
  3. Get a globe and handle it often.  Amazon has fun inflatable ones.
  4. Don’t rely on smartphones or computers as geography teaching tools. Students need to touch, feel, trace with fingers, and manipulate tangible objects to learn well.

I prefer to use maps from National Geographic because of their quality.  Some issues include wonderful regional maps that you can examine with your child–another kind of reading.



One thought on “Geography for Kids

  1. I learnt the maps of the world during my fifth grade school year (1990–91), and treasure the atlas my late uncle got me in 1986. I can’t fathom kids these days not learning basic geography. During the second summer I worked as a camp counselor, my extremely bossy co-counselor insisted Yemen was in Africa and that I had no idea what I was talking about when I said it was in Asia, on the Saudi peninsula. She said she’d have to look that up to believe it, since her teacher at religious school said (or gave the impression) Yemen was in Africa. She was all of 17, and I learnt the maps of the world before she was even born!


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