Encouraging the Study of Geography at Home and School

Peter was a whiz-kid when it came to geography! His father had introduced him to the subject before he ever started school and the young child had been devouring it ever since. Ask Peter to locate any place on the map and he could point right to it. But he wasn’t just good at place names. He could tell you the climate, the animals, and the vegetation of the area. If asked to reason why a certain event might take place in a specific country or city, he would pause and then begin his sentence very slowly with, “Let’s see…” He would then take all the information he knew about the place and reason very logically why that event might have taken place there. He might also add, “But I would also like to know…”

Peter was a phenomenal reader. At second grade, he was reading at a 12th grade level. This enabled him to research easily. Peter was gifted in geography.

While most students in first or second grades were learning about their neighborhoods in school, Peter was exploring the world. He knew that geography was not a dry subject.

To encourage students to improve their skills in geography, fill their environments with maps, atlases, and globes and refer to them often. I have a large world map hanging in my kitchen. There’s no need for me to look for it or open it up when I want it. If I read about a place and I’m not sure where it is, I can look it up. If I’m doing a crossword puzzle and one of the questions pertains to geography, I can look it up. Have maps for everything. I live in a sports oriented state, so I have maps of bike trails, hiking trails, ski area trails, and cross-country ski trails. They are fun to study. Also interesting are topographical maps, relief maps, political maps, and weather maps. Each gives different kinds of information.

If you go to the zoo, get a map of the animal locations. If you go to a museum, get a map of the exhibit locations. Have your child make a map of your house. Talk about the arrangement of the rooms and how the present locations function in your house. Then have your child create a map of his ideal house. Have him explain why he placed the rooms where he did. Is it more functional that way?

Use maps when studying history. Observe border changes. Why do they change? How does geography influence where people settle? How does it affect where people move? Discuss geography in relationship to current events. How does geography affect alliances and conflicts throughout the world? Why do the names of countries change?

Teach students how to read legends. Understand longitude and latitude and time zones. How does geography affect climate? Make geography a part of everyday life both at home and at school.

Geography involves far more than placing locations on a map. Geography helps us to understand the relationship of places and people.

Additional resources include
Here you will find not only the U.S. National Geography Standards, but lesson plans, activities, an atlas, and an interactive learning museum.

Many more resources for teaching geography.

A national geography competition.

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