Friday, January 25, 2008

To Teach a Toddler Geography

Hunter has been learning geography, and he absolutely loves it. In fact, I can't get away with putting him to bed unless we get out our little flags and point to each one on the map that hovers over his toddler bed. "Silly Mommy, we forgot to do our countries!" he will tell me if I forget.

I know that in Montessori preschools, they teach children the names of the continents. Public schools' Kindergarten geography standards say that the child must know that a map or globe is a representation of the world.

But tiny kids, at this stage, can learn a great deal more than that, simply because it is so easy for them to absorb information. He may not have an accurate grasp of what "China" is yet, but the more he learns, the more he will understand. And when he's older and has to learn this stuff in school, it will be a joy and a task of ease.

I started off by simply pointing out some interesting countries on the map that is in our dining room. He simply loved that, and was constantly climbing up by the map and saying, "Let's find Russia!" Russia was his favorite at the time. Now it is Djibouti (pronounced "juh-booty"), a tiny little country in North Eastern Africa, near the Red Sea.

I then thought it would be a good idea to use the visual aid of flags and teach him the flags and the locations of each country at once. I simply hold up the picture of the flag when I point to the country: "this is Brazil" I say, as he looks at the flag, then looks where my finger is pointed.

This teaching time takes less than two minutes a day. And it is a very fun, stress-free two minutes as well.

We do our geography once in the morning, before nap time, and before bed (on a perfect day). He is not required to say anything back or be tested in any way, since teaching is about giving information like you would give a gift, not asking for it back.

I printed out the flag cards on card stock and laminated. I got the graphics off of Wikipedia. On the back of each flag I wrote the country name and its capital, as we'll be learning capitals later. I'm surprised at how much he loves it, and am excited to be giving him such a useful, fun gift.

"The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein."
Psalm 24:1

Hunter is 2 years, 10 months old

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