How Can Social Studies Help Our Kids to Understand and Explore the World?
As children grow from infants, to toddlers, into school agers, they become aware of their social and physical environments. Without exposure to different cultures and social structures around the world, children limit their understanding and ability to tolerate differences in others as they grow. Kids learn to expand their social awareness and engagement through social studies.
What are Social Studies?
Social studies focuses on the social relationships and the functioning of our society. This includes all the components that make up the relationships, families, cultures, and beliefs in our lives. As children develop, it’s important they learn how to navigate all of these different social systems in our world.
As they grow with children from other races, cultures, and nations, children learn to have healthy interactions with others. They also begin to value the diversity and respect the differences between them and their friends.
Without focusing on opinions or stereotypes, it’s important for educators to take time to celebrate differences among children. Teachers do this through activities, lessons, and discussions in order to learn about and appreciate many different backgrounds.
Social studies helps children understand how these many cultures have come together and formed the unique community in which they live.
It’s Not Just Our World We’re Living In
Social studies at an early age helps children understand how to engage with others with the simplest of lessons. Healthy early childhood environments teach children to take responsibility for their own actions (to put their own toys away after play time), share toys with classmates, in addition to understanding their own role on a team.
Children also learn problem-solving skills through play negotiations with their classmates. They also learn how to cope with their feelings when things don’t necessarily go the way they want them to.
How Kids Harbor Teaches Social Responsibility
Here are just a few of the many different lessons and activities we use at Kids Harbor to help children learn how to become responsible members of their community, embrace their differences, as well as experience new environments and social opportunities.
- We teach how certain behaviors can affect others. For instance, a child should always wash their hands after using the restroom so they won’t make the other children sick.
- Children learn how small gestures can help others by collecting food for food drives or how spare change can help one of their fellow students with cancer treatments.
- We expand students’ community awareness through field trips to meet people in different professions, experience new foods, and participate in team sports and activities. We also take our students to places like movie theaters, parks, zoos, and nature centers to interact with all those involved in their neighborhood. One of the students’ favorite field trips is our visit to the senior center each holiday season to sing carols and engage with a different generation.
- Our teachers help children learn the value of money through activities that involve the exchange of goods and pretend money to help them begin to understand the foundation of economics.
- We encourage students to learn in multiple class environments. We offer an outdoor classroom where we learn about the weather, insects, gardening, and ecological awareness.
- Our students learn about the different roles in the community from professionals we invite to our schools. Police officers, nurses, scientists, firefighters, and soldiers have all come to speak with our children and show them what they do each day for the community.
The Importance of Social Studies for Childhood Development
During the stages of early childhood development it’s important to learn through social studies about the people, cultures, and physical characteristics of the things right here in our own community. We recognize that as children grow, it’s just as important to integrate awareness of cultural diversity and social surroundings.
“Five- and 6-year-olds are starting to develop the cognitive skills necessary to understand basic monetary concepts, such as identifying coins, figuring out how to count change, and matching small amounts of money to items they want to buy.” More on in this Parents.com family finances article on Teaching Kids the Value of Money.