I run a program with children who are exposed to different religions and people at all times. Despite being part of the military all of my life, this is the first time my program is dealing solely with military children. Because of this I have noticed some things that have been very different from when I ran my program in Maryland.
The children are aware of diversity Because of the nature of their parents jobs and the life they live of moving and meeting new people outside of their family, the children are deeply aware of where they were born verses where they are living. In some cases they can point out the places on the map! This makes it easy to add in geography components for the children.
In Maryland I had a couple of children that moved around due to their parents jobs, but most had been in the same area. So when introducing them to the concept of communities I had to start small and work my way out to the world. When trying to introduce the concept of a bigger world outside of family hands on materials work really well. Also MAPS! Especially colorful maps. When children see these maps it makes it easier to see the world and figure out where they are located.
It was great watching the children grasp that there are other places in the world and that they have different customs than they do. We eat the foods from those cultures and learn the dances and most important (at least to them) is the toys that they play with! The tools I was given from Mother Goose Time actually helped a great deal with that. The map that they have for geography has the continents in different colors with a clear definition of water.
This week we worked on Hispanic Heritage month. We studied art from the various countries, discussed the continents that Spanish speaking countries were located. This information may seem hard to grasp, but was made easier because the children had something to visually associate the information too. The art was easy because they actually were able to touch and make it their own and we talked about the meaning behind the art.
Some educators are wary about discussing this concept with children because the concept is so abstract. It does not have to be abstract though. The introduction of the community they live in and the wider world can encourage children to ask questions and fill them with curiosity that will break down the abstractness of Geography.