How to teach your kids geography.
If I had my druthers, I’d never fly. I’d take trains, buses, cars, flatbed trucks, anything that took a while to get there and reminded you that you were going somewhere.
Flying also brings you so far so fast that you can’t always comprehend the differences in where you were to where you are. If it took you two days on the Slow Boat to get from Thailand to Laos (it did) then you wouldn’t forget it (we didn’t) and you’d appreciate where you were when you arrived (we did). Not just appreciate in the sense of Oh isn’t it pretty here? but that you have gone from Point A to Point B and you know it, you feel it.
With GPS navigation systems, you don’t know where you are. OK, I’ll rephrase: you don’t need to know where you are. You can rely on the ridiculously accurate GPS to get you from Point A to Point B. If you have a map, you have to look at a piece of paper, study it, figure out where you are and figure out where you’re going to go–and how to get there. Sure, I say this and I use a GPS. OK, fine. But I want to teach my kids about geography. I asked them this morning as we walked home from the market here in Aguadulce, Spain if they liked going to foreign countries and I’ll boast about one answer and give you also the second answer to be fair.
1.) “Yes, because we learn more about the countries.”
I could kiss the ground and look up and thank the Parenting Gods that I did something right! Shoot me down with lightning now!
2.) “Yes because we poop more.”
Huh? He explained some long story but I think the gist was that they ate more fruit while traveling so they pooped more. He went into some detail … He also really had to go and I didn’t really know how to go home … I can’t believe I’m admitting this while writing on GPS systems, maps, and knowing where you are … but I’m not holding anything back on The Cream here, you get the raw deal–for better or worse.
Later we showed them a map (yes, on an iPad because no, I don’t actually have a paper map … ) of where we are (near Almeria, Spain) where we’re going next week (Barcelona, Spain) where we came from (The Netherlands) and where Germany was (my friend we’re visiting is German).
I was happily surprised that they asked all kinds of questions about the map. Proud parent badge! “Is Switzerland bigger than Holland?” (I don’t know.) Is Germany bigger than Spain? My friend said Germany has something like three times the population of Spain but is similar in size. Then goofball boy started asking if Almeria was bigger than the universe and it was time to quit. But hey, I’ll take it. A bit of learning outside of the classroom? My favorite kind. You know who also like “secret learning”? The kids.
They were interested because we were there. It was some random geography lesson, we were just pointing to where we were. Kids also don’t really care where you are, but they like to know there’s a map. By that I mean that it doesn’t need to be Spain. We were in Fresno, California last month and I also showed them a map and how far it was from San Francisco. Was Fresno bigger than San Francisco? (I’m pretty sure it’s not as far as population, but probably is in square miles.) How many miles away was it? It could be a slow train in California. It doesn’t matter, it just matters that you bring the topic up and question them.
Show them a map of somewhere far away and it’s about somewhere else. Show them a map of where you are and it’s about them.