Geography is an important subject that your child will learn at school when they are young. By helping them understand the basics of geography, you are helping them establish an early foundation for more the more advanced ideas they will learn in social studies classes. This can be an easy subject when the student is invested, so the best way you can help them is by making it fun to learn.
The best way to familiarize your child with geography is to set up a map in your house and make it an everyday conversation. Use the map to explore your surroundings by discussing landmarks that your child knows but might not be able to locate. Identify where relatives live or where you took a family vacation. You can also use the map in conjunction with the news to teach them where current events are taking place.
The human brain has adapted to respond to spatial context and easily recall location cues to remember information and find our way around. That’s why we remember information better when we associate it with a specific location that we can easily recall. Introducing anchor points when referring to a location on a map can make it easier for children to learn. Providing them with a reference point can put new locations in the proper context and make them easier to remember during tests.
Once you have spent some time teaching them to put geography in its proper context, it is time to see what they can remember. You can use flashcards to test their knowledge of state capitols, famous landmarks, and anything else they need to memorize. A great way to test their spatial memory is to have them fill out a blank map and see how much they can remember just by context.
The internet is also a great tool for studying geography. Programs like Google Earth and Google Maps allow kids to explore the world and find new and exciting locations for themselves. There are also plenty of online games that can help kids have a fun and interactive experience with geography.
If they seem to be handling the basic tasks of identifying states, countries and capitals, it might be time to show them a few different types of maps. Expose them to contour and population maps to give them a more in depth understanding of the world around them. Expose them to a globe to show them what the world really looks like and how it is organized differently from what it looks like on a map.
For older children, this is a great time to introduce them to longitude and latitude, as well as different timezones and the scale on a map. These can all assist your child establish a spatial context for locations and help them remember easier when it comes time to take a test.
Learning about maps and geography is not just helpful in the classroom, it can prepare them for life as they get older and increase their independence as well. If they know where they’re going, they will never feel lost.