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Homeschool Geography Curriculum

Geography - the study of the earth and its people - is usually an ongoing part of a student’s curriculum. This article will help parents who are trying to develop a homeschool geography curriculum.

First Steps for Planning Your Homeschool Geography Curriculum

As you begin to plan your homeschool geography curriculum, you should consult with your state’s department of education to find your state’s requirements for a homeschool geography curriculum. You can find your state’s department of education web site at Most states require geography to be incorporated into a homeschool curriculum from the elementary grades through high school. Geography may be taught as a separate subject or incorporated into related subjects such as social studies, history, and physical sciences.

Your state’s department of education may offer helpful resources for teaching geography. You can also use resources from other states and organizations to supplement your state’s resources. The National Geographic Society is a good place to look for resources and ideas. Its web site can be found at

Using the National Standards for Planning a Homeschool Geography Curriculum

National Geographic and the National Council for Geographic Education have established 18 national standards for geography, which fall into six essential elements:

Essential Element 1: The World in Spatial Terms

Students should know:

  • How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.
  • How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context.
  • How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface.

Essential Element 2: Places and Regions

Students should know:

  • The physical and human characteristics of places.
  • That people create regions to interpret Earth's complexity.
  • How culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

Essential Element 3: Physical Systems

Students should know:

  • The physical processes that shape the patterns of Earth's surface.
  • The characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth's surface.

Essential Element 4: Human Systems

  • The characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth's surface.
  • The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.
  • The patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface.
  • The processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement.
  • How the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth's surface.
  • How human actions modify the physical environment.

Essential Element 5: Environment and Society

  • How physical systems affect human systems.
  • The changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources.

Essential Element 6: The Uses of Geography

  • How to apply geography to interpret the past.
  • How to apply geography to interpret the present and plan for the future.

Going Beyond the Standards

Because geography is about places, one of the best ways to teach it is to take students on field trips. Trips do not have to be to distant locations for students to learn more about geography. In fact, students will enjoy learning more about the interesting features of the area where they live. Local museums and nature centers can teach students about nearby places and how people interact with them. Students can also study different kinds of maps about the area where they live, and local cultural events will teach them about the cultures in their region.


National Geographic Xpeditions, "Geography Standards" -

National Council for Geographic Education -

US Department of Education -