Tests repeatedly demonstrate that Americans know very little about geography, especially world geography. But homeschool parents can foster knowledge of maps, borders, and place names with these four simple ways to raise a geography literate child.
Make Geography Fun
My all time favorite geography resource is Geography Songs published by Audio Memory. Its silly lyrics and catchy tunes will help you memorize the names of countries all over the world — painlessly. The 10 Days series of geography board games by Out of the Box are full of geography facts but are truly fun to play.
If your children need more focused geography lessons, try short but frequent map drills. Prepare blank outline maps of a single area to study. On one of the maps, indicate all the geographical features you want the child to learn: countries, cities, capitols, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, lakes, etc. This will become your answer key. Limit your map drill to 5-10 names, depending on your child’s age.
Have your child copy the features you noted onto his own blank map. On the next day, give him another blank map and see how much he remembers from the previous drill. Then let him correct what he missed or fill in what he forgot from your answer key. As he memorizes features and names, add new ones to the map until he has learned the geography of an entire region of the world.
Refer to an Atlas — Often
One of the easiest ways to incorporate geography into your homeschool curriculum is to simply look up the places that are mentioned in your other subjects. Geography doesn’t have to be a separate subject; you can integrate it into your existing studies. For example, if your science curriculum mentions a prominent physicist, find his country or city in the atlas. When the art lesson mentions European cities, don’t just stumble over the names; look them up on a map. Frequently referring to an atlas teaches good reference skills while reinforcing geography facts too.
In these days of GPS, maps in the glove compartment may be a thing of the past. But looking at physical maps is a great way to get a broad perspective of geographical features. So go ahead and invest in a road atlas for the backseat and let your children pore over the names of cities and states, rivers and mountains. For a freebie alternative, stop at rest areas or welcome centers and ask for complimentary road maps.
Geography can be covered in the homeschool curriculum with a just few key resources: an atlas, outline maps, and board games. They can be used year after year with all grade levels. The repetition of small geography lessons will, over time, create a strong foundation of geography literacy in your children.