How Unschooled Children Learn About History and Geography

It is my hope for my children to have a solid understanding of the world. We want for them to understand the importance of knowing about things that have happened and that are happening to people throughout the world, and how those things affect their world and even their life now. We want them to understand that things that are happening now will affect people and the earth even after we are gone. We want them to understand that people throughout the world and throughout the ages are the same inside, no matter what they look like on the outside. We want them to understand the importance of learning from the past, especially the negative things, so we can hopefully prevent similar things from happening again.  

My children are dual citizens of New Zealand and the USA. Until last year, they lived in NZ their whole lives, but we visited the US a few times over the years, so they have been on airplanes between the two countries multiple times and have always had some understanding of different countries and how far apart the two countries are, to some degree.

They have also been to Fiji, where one of their aunts lives. Travel really is one of the best forms of education. It has always been my dream to “worldschool” – homeschooling while traveling the world. Even though international travel has been made more difficult since the beginning of 2020, we are taking advantage of as many opportunities as we can to see nearer locations. The photo above is of my children at The Pirate’s House in Savannah, Georgia, where we recently spent a few days. The Pirate’s House opened in 1753 and became an inn and meeting place for pirates and sailors of the Seven Seas. This is just one of the fun ways we learned about the rich history of Savannah.  Going on one of the tour trolleys there was a great way to learn quickly about many historical facts.

I want my children to be able to explore the different aspects of their own countries as well as other countries and cultures, such as languages, customs, cuisine, music, art, architecture, attire, religion, beliefs, history, holidays, etc. There are many fun ways for children to learn about these things, such as picking a country for a week or two and checking out books about it, looking up information and images on the internet, using Google Earth to explore from street views, listening to the language, cooking some food from that country, discussing its history and religion, etc. This is something that can be built upon as their understanding of more complex aspects (economy, political system, interactions and wars with other countries, etc.) increases.  

Other opportunities for children to gain an understanding of History and Geography include looking at world, country, state and city maps; looking at globes; visiting various museums; playing games such as Trivial Pursuit; watching travel, geographic, and historical documentaries, shows, and movies; reading biographies and historical fiction and nonfiction; reading encyclopedias and atlases; talking to people from other countries about those countries; sending and receiving postcards to and from people in other countries through the Postcrossing website; talking about things that happened in the past but in recent memory, and discussing what has happened since then, because of it. (One example of this for our family is the Christchurch earthquakes, which will always be a part of my children’s history and is something they have been able to see affecting that city every time we used to go to the city centre, and will be able to see the differences when we return. We have always taken photos of the changes so in years to come we can have a visual record of the transformation our city has gone through.)