The Whole Wide World

Eliza Clark
March 15, 2010

It's a very big world out there, but sometimes life with small children can make the world feel as though it has shrunk down to the size of your own house and neighborhood. Small children are naturally most interested in what they can lay their bright eyes and grubby hands upon. The whole wide world of countries, continents, oceans and mountains is far beyond their immediate circle of preoccupations.

This, however, is an area in which parents can have a huge impact on their kids' awareness and knowledge. To start, simply bring a big, beautiful map of the world into your home. Books, languages, music from and conversation about other parts of the world are also important and fun. And while airplane travel with preschoolers is not many parents' idea of a good time, armchair travel with young children can be a great escape and learning opportunity.

Best of all, in this global day and age, anyone can easily conjure a kid-friendly armchair trip to Africa or South America or wherever else you fancy. Take, for example, the Peace Corps sponsored web site, Kids Around the World, where you can get to know children from Mozambique, Peru, Bosnia and many other spots, read their stories, hear their voices, and see pictures of where they live. Or you could sign your child up for Little Passports Global Adventure, an innovative form of vicarious travel in which you follow the appealing characters Sam and Sofia as they crisscross the globe, and receive monthly letters and souvenirs documenting their journey.

For other ideas to give your kids the geography bug and the itch to travel, read on this week and next as we offer up our savviest recommendations for inspiring our preschoolers with an interest in the big wide world. Oh, and first things first: get your child her very own first passport! (Did you know that fewer than 30% of Americans have a passport?) Instructions for obtaining a passport for minors can be found here. That way your little one can really start dreaming of travels to come.

And off we go!

From the Parents

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