Social Studies The study of people.
Social Studies is probably the least well understood Early Childhood curriculum area. When people think of “social studies,” they think of history and geography. But long ago and far away aren’t relevant and meaningful to young children. For them, social studies should be about here and now.
Social studies is focused on less and less in elementary schools. The consequences of this have been said to include: • Lack of a sense of history • Geographical illiteracy • Absence of inter-cultural understanding • Abandonment of values
In Early Childhood it’s even worse. • Inappropriate teaching of history and geography. • Otherwise virtually ignored consciously • Unconsciously most social studies concepts are taught through holidays.
The problems with holidays: • Holidays pass down the society’s values and myths. Can’t help but convey the prejudices, divisions, violence and materialism of the society. • Also often tell half-truths: Partly because over time or by intention the truths have been distorted Partly because at a young age basic trust must be protected It’s thought that since we can’t tell them the bad stuff we should just tell them the good (whitewashing, lying) • Teachers aren’t trained to teach holidays • Also, we can’t control when holidays fall or what to celebrate So the curriculum becomes disjointed and out of our control
What Is Early Childhood Social Studies? It’s the study of people: • Their roles • Their relationships • Their feelings • Their identities • Their homes • Their communities • Their values • Their humanity
What is the progression of Early Childhood Social Studies? FAMILY ME COMMUNITY PEOPLE SCHOOL
More specifically? • Feelings • Understanding, expressing, releasing, controlling • Personality development • Self-esteem, self-awareness, self-motivation, self-control • Social skills • Sharing, cooperation, communication, negotiation • Social values • Respect, caring, responsibility, freedom, individuality, diversity • Social themes • Me, family, community (places, people, occupations, transportation), cultures, people • Social issues • Violence, prejudice, drugs, child abuse, ecology • Emotional issues • Death, separation/divorce, abuse, illness/hospitalization, moving, separation anxiety, sibling rivalry
Social studies should be naturally integrated into everything we do Different early childhood approaches center on different curriculum areas: High/Scope – math and science Reggio Emilia – art Bank Street – social studies
Bank Street Approach • Forerunner of Developmentally Appropriate Practice • Movement began in early 1900’s • The Approach developed in the 1930’s • The Developmental-Interactive Approach • First American Early Childhood methodology • Leaders in the field for much of the 20th century • Dramatic play, block area, classroom meetings, job chart, outdoor climbers, field trips, integrated curriculum, social themes, incorporation of child psychology all outgrowths • Centerpiece is social studies • It’s the approach that you’ve been learning
Appropriate Social Studies Activities • Me and feelings books • Me dolls • Body tracing • Share and tell • Blind walk • Fruit salad • Warm fuzzies/cold pricklies • Rules and feelings charts • Cooperative rather than competitive games • Mirror and pairing activities • “Group Therapy” • Robot/rag doll; robot/wild thing • Zoom/Eek • Problem puppets • Puppets to introduce history • Family trees, albums, graphs, sharings (starting with definition of) • Classroom community meetings • Community trips and use of dramatic play, beginning mapping • Alternative holiday celebrations (bridging holidays, own holidays, refocused holidays – Thanksgiving example) • Win/win solutions • Multicultural curriculum
Books for Social Studies Curriculum Enhancement • Explorations • The Anti-Bias Curriculum • Roots and Wings • Keeping the Peace • Discover the World • Discovering Feelings • T.A. for Tots • Including All of Us