Geography is a skill that is almost nonexistent in today’s public schools. Due to the focus on reading and math, social studies is often overlooked. This is why it is important to teach your child geography. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, there are a few important geography skills every child should know:
1. Continents- Uh, this is basic, right? All children should know that there are 7 continents, and their names. There are so many poems online and videos that can help your child learn them. I really like this cute video here.
2. Oceans- Very easy to teach after children learn the continents. A child should also know what an ocean is, as well as types of animals that live in the ocean. This would be great to do as a sensory activity. We have this ocean animal set that makes its way into the bath tub from time to time. Or you can use it at your water table. For older (elementary) children, they can “research” the different animals and draw a picture of them.
3. Neighboring Countries- A child should know the country they live (i.e. the United States), and the countries that border it (Canada and Mexico). Children should be able to point out the countries on a globe. We actually have 2 globes in our home, that our children use almost on a daily basis. They get excited about pointing out places they have heard about, “Did you know Madagascar is a real place?” Yes, honey, I knew. Then it sparks them into learning more about Africa.
4. Directions- do you remember Never Eat Shredded Wheat? That was the simple way we learned North, East, South, and West. Bonus points for those moms who get their child a compass so they can actually follow directions! If you are feeling super skilled, your child can even make a compass like the one shown here.
5. 50 States- Again, with the songs! Songs are a great way to memorize facts, and you can choose the state song that you like. One activity that I do with my children is to build their 50 state puzzle first, and then sing the state song. As we are singing, I will point out the states. Once they get better, they will be able to point out states on their own. Children should know the state they live in, and the states nearby. I have started my older daughter on learning the state capitals as well. Since she will begin to learn about how the government works, it is good to have the background knowledge about a state capital. P.S. If you are a Canadian friend, teach your child the provinces of Canada.
Not only will your child look like a superstar knowing these basic geography skills, you will be giving your child an interest in the world they live in. The reason why you should consider teaching your child geography is that it helps them develop into a global citizen, since they will see the world as a place to explore, and understand that there are more places than the town they live in.