Tips for Prents About Teaching Kids About Geography

Learn Directions — Location

To help young children learn location, make sure they know the colour and style of the building in which they live, the name of their town, and their street address.

Then, when you talk about other places, they have something of their own with which to compare.

Teach  Positional Words

* Children need to understand positional words. Teach children words like “above” and “below” in a natural way when you talk with them or give them directions. When picking up toys to put away, say, “Please put your toy into the basket on the right” or, “Put the green washcloth into the drawer.” Right and left are as much directional terms as north, south, east, and west. Other words that describe such features as colour, size, and shape are also important.

* Show your children north, south, east, and west by using your home as a reference point. Perhaps you can see the sun rising in the morning through a bedroom window that faces east and setting at night through the westerly kitchen window.

Play Geo Games

* Reinforce their knowledge by playing games. Once children have their directional bearings, you can hide an object, for example, then give them directions to its location: “two steps to the north, three steps west. . .”

* Use pictures from books and magazines to help your children associate words with visual images. A picture of a desert can stimulate conversation about the features of a desert — arid and barren. Work with your children to develop more complex descriptions of different natural and cultural features.

Maps ( Not GPS)

Put your child’s natural curiosity to work. Even small children can learn to read simple maps of their school, neighbourhood, and community. Here are some simple map activities you can do with your children.

* Go on a walk and collect natural materials such as acorns and leaves to use for an art project. Map the location where you found those items.

* Create a treasure map for children to find hidden treats in the back yard or inside your home. Treasure maps work especially well for birthday parties.

* Look for your city or town on a map. If you live in a large city or town, you may even be able to find your street. Point out where your relatives or your children’s best friends live.

* Find the nearest park, lake, mountain, or other cultural or physical feature on a map. Then, talk about how these features affect your child’s life. Living near the ocean may make your climate moderate, moors may provide an open path for high winds, and mountains may block some weather fronts.

* By looking at a map, your children may learn why they go to a particular school. Perhaps the next nearest school is on the other side of a park, a busy street, or a large hill. Maps teach us about our surroundings by portraying them in relation to other places.

* Before taking a trip, show your children a map of where you are going and how you plan to get there. Look for other ways you could go, and talk about why you decided to use a particular route. Maybe they can suggest other routes.

* Encourage your children to make their own maps using legends with symbols. Older children can draw a layout of their street, or they can illustrate places or journeys they have read about. Some books, like Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wizard of Oz, contain fanciful maps. These can be models for children to create and plot their own stories.

* Keep a globe and a map of the world near the television and use them to locate places talked about on television programmes, or to follow the travels of your favourite football team.

About the Author

Armin Brott is the country’s leading expert on fathers and families. His six popular books have helped millions of men around the world become the fathers they want to be and that their family needs them to be. His titles include, “The Expectant Father” and “The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year.” He has written on parenting and fatherhood for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts “Positive Parenting”, a nationally distributed weekly talk show, and “DaddyCast”, a daily podcast for and by dads. See www.MrDad.com.

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