Almost all young children enjoy two things: Relating their own achievements, however trivial in our eyes and Listening to elders relate their childhood. This could very well be the stepping stone to introduce history to a four year old.
We may alternate the bed time stories with anecdotes of the childhood events of successful scientists, sportspersons or national leaders. The interest of the child is kindled and the desire to learn more becomes gradually insatiable. If the child watches you relate the stories of the bygone era with total commitment, he would be picturing them in his mind, and would be quoting bits and pieces during relevant present day situations.
Let me share an interesting query by a tiny tot in this regard: “How do you know, Grandpa, that such a thing did happen? You haven’t seen them all, yourself!” Though the grandfather made all efforts to convince her, the little one ran away, saying, “Anyway, that was an interesting story, Grandpa…”
May be this Grandpa needs to be told about the time line. It goes like this: If the child is, say, anywhere from four years upwards, make a collection of his photographs right from his birth. Paste them on a chart paper / broad board paper in descending order, starting from the latest shot, which keeps him happy and thrilled. Present him the chart and narrate the events that happened during every shot of the snaps. Watch him go into splits, stare with awe, and enjoy his very own story, unknown to him so far. Gradually, he could be invited to see the collection of your photos – from yesteryears and more of your parents… He is LIVING THE PAST – experiencing history.
And now for Geography. After a session of fun and frolic with your child, settle down in a comfortable posture. Take a sheet of paper and draw two dots, say that they are nothing but “You and I”. Draw a box around the dots, which now becomes “our living room where we are sitting now.” Draw adjacent rooms, kitchen, etc. in proportionate size and complete the plan of your home. Is the paper fully used?
Take another sheet of paper. Place a dot and call it your home. Complete the picture with the simple sketch of your neighborhood. Take the child’s help on and off so that he feels to be part of the exercise: Check with him where the park is – “not on the right — we turn the other direction when we go there every evening, you see…” he may be telling you!
You are now helping him expand his being laterally, spatially. Gradually, you will end up showing him the map of your state and soon, if the child is ready, the country’s! Its time to pick up a ball – it’s anybody’s guess – to tell him that the earth’s shape is round. Proceed with a gift as a sign of encouragement. Buy him a globe. His first rendezvous with Geography has pleasantly happened.
When your child comprehends what history is, he is naturally drawn — in a phased manner — to a wide range of related topics: ancient civilizations, lifestyles of kings, the positive and negative sides of patriotism…. up to an initiation in the biographies of great national leaders. The first face-to-face with geography could open innumerable possibilities of learning sessions: environmental studies, which could involve anything up to pollution and ozone layer, solar system, time zones, international dateline, rainfall et al.
‘Good job’, you could pat on your own shoulders. You have facilitated an imaginary handshake with the world in which he lives: in its physical and political forms. And he is growing not just in height and weight, but also in space and time.