I love the moments in our family when I see my children totally engaged in learning. The other day I walked into the kitchen to find my son beating his head against the wall saying, “Where the heck is Singapore!” This was not a typical scene in our home and I couldn’t help but laugh. He looked at me with a face that said, “Ha, ha now help me” to which I responded, “Look by Vietnam.” Within seconds he said, “Oh, there it is” and he continued with his assignment and I went back to what I was doing.
Over the next ten minutes I heard discussions between my boys about where Seychelles, Bahrain, and the Bahamas are. I was particularly amused by their pronunciation of Say-chilis. It turns out they were working on a language arts assignment and they were locating places on the map where the English language is spoken.
I have to admit, I hadn’t even heard of the Seychelles archipelago until I was an adult, but at ten and 12 years old, not only have my boys heard of it, but they have learned how to pronounce it and where it is located on the map.
It is so important to understand the world, and its geography is a great place to start. When we understand that our neighborhood, state, or even country is just a small portion of a bigger picture we are able to put into perspective just how small we are in the whole scheme of things. For this reason, my children have grown up looking at maps and globes.
The kitchen is the hub of our home, so Scott and I decided that it was the perfect place to have a large map of the world on the wall. It’s a regular occurrence for one of my children to hear about a new place and then run over to the wall and find it on the map. They then find where we live and draw imaginary lines from point A to point B. It’s been the catalyst for discussions about how to travel from one point to another, about different map projections and how they change the proportions of the map, about the climate of different regions of the world, about the differences between lakes, seas, and oceans, and many other fascinating questions contrived in the mind of a child.
I love geography because of its diversity. It incorporates science, politics, history, language, and technology. It is truly a fascinating field of study, but sadly the extent of my geography education growing up in public school was coloring the political boundaries on blank maps, labeling major landforms and cities, and memorizing capitals. The simple act of putting a large map in a prominent place in our home has ignited an inquisitiveness in my children that has surprised me. They are learning at a very young age that they are a tiny piece of an enormous puzzle.
Our kitchen map has become a key component to our daily Brain Buffet and has allowed me to incorporate geography into all aspects of our day. Whether you homeschool or not, I encourage you to consider investing a few dollars and a wall into the education of your children. When was the last time you explored the world from your dinner table?