Teaching Geographical Concepts and Skills in Primary Social Studies


Geography is a subject that helps children understand and appreciate the world they live in. The subject enables them to make thoughtful decisions and take responsible actions towards sustainable living. This article focuses on the teaching of geographical concepts and skills in the primary social studies curriculum. Questions on what is geography, why teach geography, what are the key geographical concepts and skills in the primary social studies curriculum and how can these concepts and skills be taught will be elaborated.

What is Geography?

Geography is one of the several subjects that make up the primary social studies curriculum in Singapore. Like history, economics, sociology and political science, geography is not taught as a separate subject but is integrated with these subjects under the umbrella subject called social studies. The word “geo” means “Earth” and “graphy” means “writing” so geography is about the study of the Earth. Geography asks questions about places in order to understand where these places are as well as what makes them distinct from one another and gives them their unique place identities. It also asks questions about the interactions and relationships between places and the people living there, the impacts of these interactions and what can be done to ensure sustainable living for future generations. Such questions about places, ranging from local to global in scale, can be raised (Smeaton, 1998).

Why Teach Geography?

The purposes of studying geography (Catling & Willy, 2009) in primary social studies are many and they can contribute towards the development of children to be informed, concerned and participative citizens (MOE, 2012).


An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!