Growing Up Inquisitive About the World
© Beverley Paine, August 2007
Children are playing in the sand. They make roads for cars. One builds a castle where a doll can live. Another scoops out a hole, uses the dirt to make a hill, and pours some water in the hole to make a lake. Sticks become bridges and trees. The children name the streets, and may even use a watering can to make rain.
Although they don't know it, these children are learning the principles of geography. They are locating things, seeing how people interact with the Earth, manipulating the environment, learning how weather changes the character of a place, and looking at how places relate to each other through the movement of things from one place to another.
Remember thumbing through an atlas or encyclopedia as a child, imagining being an adventurer exploring tropical jungles, travelling across dunes on a safari in Africa, boating up the Mississippi River, climbing the peaks of the Himalayas, visiting ancient cathedrals and castles of Europe, fighting the Mongolians beside the Great Wall of China? I do! The world seemed full of faraway, exotic, and wonderful places that I wanted to know more about.
Our children are in a similar fashion inquisitive about the world. Documentaries reveal so much more of it than we glimpsed as children but movies still cast those places as exotic and romantic, stirring the imagination with the kind of stories that engage children. Translating that interest into knowledge that we can use to inform us throughout life doesn't take a lot effort.
We kept a globe and atlas handy and were forever using road maps and street directories when in the car. All reveal a lot of geographical information about the world and are interesting to explore in their own right. As a kid a friend and I played a game called 'capital cities': one of us would call out a country and the other would name the capital city. We competed with each other to know the most. Another game was calling out the name of a country that began with the last letter of the country previously said. Such games were great to play in the car on long journeys. And without much effort taught the names of countries. It does without saying that we'd search the maps in the atlas for names of countries!Few adults seem to know where other countries are, or what the seas and oceans are called. Making informed decisions or forming opinions about current events around the world calls for geographic knowledge and understanding.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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