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Social Studies

“Social studies” is just a complicated way to say “ learning about people.”

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And now is a great time to help your child understand that he’s part of a community. That sense of belonging, responsibility and the world make up pre-k social studies!

Your Pre-Kindergartener

Because he lives in a democracy, it’s important that he knows what voting is and why we do it. This idea may come easily to him if he’s ever “cast a vote” for a certain dinner or special treat!

It’s also about studying the environment around him. The earth affects a lot of what we do, and we affect it, too. The sooner a child understands that, the better.

One thing that may or may not be happening in your child’s head is an understanding of history. Just as we live in a certain place, we all live in a certain time, and the past has influenced the present in all kinds of ways. Speaking with older relatives offers great chances to learn about this.

But until your child is comfortable with the idea of personal time—how things change for him from day to day—it’s too soon to expect him to really understand things that happened long, long ago. We’ll get there, though. It just takes time.

  • I’m Part of Something Bigger

    She already knows a little about how your family celebrates things, like birthdays or holidays. Now she’s starting to see that the larger community has its own way of recognizing events, too. (For example, your home probably doesn’t host parades!) It’s all part of learning the world beyond the people she knows and sees regularly.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Look around your child’s care – do you see images of families, community connections and historic figures on posters, pictures or bulletin boards? Are conversations about community celebrations, diverse cultures and the past a normal part of classroom rhythms through books or play activities?

  • I Can Imagine The Past

    Understanding before-and-after can be as simple as knowing why we pick up our toys: so Mom or Dad doesn’t trip over them later! While soon he’ll be able to point to a calendar and know what each page means, for now it’s more about these simple connections. This also helps kids get an appreciation for why we have rules.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Look for a schedule of daily events -- one that combines words and images, ideally. The classroom should contain a calendar and a schedule so children are aware of daily routines and activities.

  • This Way Ahead!

    “Okay, so this rock is our house, and this stick is the tree. Now, I’ll run around here…” At this age, play is getting more complex as your child makes maps in her head and explores the world around her. It’s not only fun; it’s the beginning of knowing, and improving, the environment we all share.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Is recycling or not being a litterbug encouraged? Teachers should model a positive connections between people and the world we live in.

  • We All Play a Part

    A firefighter needs a hose. A farmer has a tractor. Here it’s your child’s time to recognize people in the community by what they do and how it helps. (Acting out these roles is pretty popular, too.)

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Are children encouraged to act out everyday situations by pretending to be a variety of community helpers -- police, firefighters, teachers? You might also see them using play money -- and beginning to understand how the economy works while they do!

  • Together We Can Do It

    What happens when we all vote for something? What jobs need to be done around the house or in the classroom? And, most importantly, how does it help if we all work together? These are the current questions in your child’s journey from great kid to great citizen.

    Look for Signs of Learning at Your Child's Care

    Children explore their own leadership by taking on classroom jobs like feeding a class pet, helping out at meals or holding the door open for the class.

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