It's become increasingly more important for society to be aware of global topics and issues and now children are more than welcome to be part of the discussion. Something that used to be called social studies is now being incorporated with geography; geo-literacy is a concept that can be introduced early on, in early learning settings. It's not necessarily a new focus in school curriculum, simply a concept from National Geographic defined as,
an understanding of how our world works that all members of modern society
require. Geo-literacy is the ability to reason about Earth systems and interconnections
to make far reaching decisions. Whether we are making decisions about where to
live or what precautions to take for natural hazards, we all make decisions that
require geo-literacy for our lives.
Starting the conversation early is actually quite simple, as simple as teaching children what street they live on. An experience in our JK/SK classroom introduced the children to their social surroundings, i.e I live on Mortimer drive, in the city of Toronto, in the province of Ontario, in
Canada. Later this conversation turns to climate and weather; perhaps in our country. Weather and climate can turn to our wild life and resources.
Emergent curriculum is based on children's emerging interests and inquiry, being able to answer their own questions. Geo-literacy ties in perfectly with this type of program as with each new topic, more and more topics expand. Asking questions and relating such topics such as science, geography or climate also promotes school readiness, for our older groups.
Some ways to get the questioning and inquiring started:
- Adorning the classroom with international flags/maps
- Diverse animals in your toy bin
- Thought provoking books on the bookshelf (Eye Witness and National Geographic for children are a favourite)
- After returning from vacation, ask a child how how they got to the destination, what the weather was like, what's type of activity they participated in
- Introducing additional languages, languages from home
To get the questions and I wonder comments going, start with circle time. We’ve begun making observations through National Geographic photos. The children make statements on what they see in the photo, and in return as educators we provoke and further those questions. What does this tell you? What do you think is happening? These are key questions for you to ask, getting a slew of responses. Go ahead, ask questions and see what happens.