The field of social studies is interdisciplinary, and intertwines concepts relating to government, civics, economics, history, sociology, and geography. Through social studies, children can explore and develop an understanding of their place within and relationship to family, community, environment, and the world.
Social studies learning supports children’s emerging understanding of social rules, and their ability to recognize and respect personal and collective responsibilities as necessary components for a fair and just society. By engaging with familiar adults and peers through the course of their everyday lives, children across the birth through five continua are introduced to the different perspectives that they and others share and to life within their community – such as an understanding of principles of community care, supply and demand, occupations, and currency (Civics & Government and Economics). In addition, social studies learning helps children to develop an awareness of the passage of time and diversity (History), and place (Geography). As children learn about their own history, the history of others, and the diversity in the environment in which they live, they place themselves within a broader context of the world around them and can think beyond the walls of their home and early childhood classroom.
Children with disabilities may demonstrate alternate ways of meeting the goals of social studies development. Children with a cognitive disability may reach many of these same goals but at a different pace, with a different degree of accomplishment, and in a different order than their peers. However, the goals for all children are the same, even though the path and the pace toward realizing the goals may be different. Principles of universal design for learning (UDL) offer the least restrictive and most inclusive approach to developing environments and curricula that best support the social studies development of all children.
While this domain represents general expectations for social studies development, each child will reach the individual learning goals at their own pace and in their own way. As you plan social studies learning experiences, it will be important to reflect upon the diversity of the children in your classroom and how the components within this domain can be represented in ways that are meaningful to children’s individuality, their family, their homes, and their community.