Is U.S. Geography the Best Place to Begin?

Shouldn’t I Start with U.S. Geography?

If you live in the U.S., the tendency is to start your child’s geography study with a focus on U.S. geography. And only U.S. geography.

I’m not really sure why that is. Maybe because the United States is so big, and after all, it is home. It makes sense to start from home and branch out.

So yes, there is a place for that.

The problem comes when that’s all you do.

Some seem to start with the U.S., and then camp out for a while. A long while.

But the world is a much bigger place.

And the 50 States?

And then there’s another concern. Although it may seem like a good idea to begin your elementary child’s geography with learning all 50 states, that’s A LOT of capitals and state flowers and state birds to separate in a young mind!

Let’s get real. How many of us know the state flowers of any state outside our own? And how many of us really care?!

(Yes, this is a geography teacher saying that!)

A Better Idea for Elementary Geography

At Let’s Go, we approach the U.S. in regions. Introducing the country in larger blocks for the younger grades is simply less overwhelming.

We also present the U.S. as one big country among the almost 200 other countries that share the planet.

Yes, home is important. But we do have neighbors.

Granted, since the U.S. is so large, we do treat it a little differently than other countries.

Because of its size, it does get special attention. Just not 50 weeks worth of attention!

At Let’s Go Geography, kids study the United States several weeks every year, and then branch out to look at countries all across the globe. We balance looking at our home country by also looking at our neighbors, both far and near.

How does all this work?

Free Geography Lesson

Let’s Go Geography visits 2-3 different US regions each year in 2-3 different lessons. The US is the only country kids visit every year & the only country they visit more than once in a year.

Kids learn the US like this:

Year 1: the Northeast & Hawaii

Year 2: the Pacific NW, the Mountain West, & the S Atlantic

Year 3: the Midwest, Alaska, & South Central

And speaking of Alaska, have you downloaded your free lesson from Year 3 yet? It’s the one on Alaska. You can do that here:

World Geography for Kids

What does the rest of our geography year look like?

After the U.S., kids stay on the North American continent for a few more weeks, exploring Central America, too.

After North America, kids visit every inhabited continent for several weeks, looking at select countries on that continent each week. From South America, kids go to Europe, then Africa, Asia, & finally either Australia & Oceania or Antarctica, depending on the year.

And if you’d like to see exactly what countries are included in Let’s Go Geography, you can see the schedule here.

After all, U.S. Geography is a good place to begin, but don’t stop there! Kids see the whole world, including the United States, with Let’s Go Geography!

About the Author

Carol Henderson is the author of the Let's Go Geography curriculum. She previously homeschooled all 5 of her now-grown kids, and currently teaches several history and geography classes at a large homeschool co-op. After creating and then using her own geography curriculum for several years, she has published it here to share with you!

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