In the early years of education, the focus is on reading, writing, and math. Much of the school day is spent teaching the art of reading. Students also learn to write stories and practice handwriting. The foundations of math skills is introduced and practiced. With the curriculum and high-stakes assessment focusing on reading, writing, and math; science and social studies take a “backseat” in education; making them the lost subjects.
Social Studies: The Lost Subject?
As a mother of three, I am shocked and disappointed in the lack of knowledge my own children have in their history and social studies content. We are doing a disservice to our children, OUR FUTURE, in not teaching history or social studies on a regular basis. History guides our future. If our younger generation doesn’t know our history or past mistakes, they are bound to repeat those mistakes.
Primary school teachers do a great job of teaching special days and monthly themes based upon a holiday or an event. Literature is used to support the instruction of the holidays, events and themes. Our challenge as educators is to become more effective in integrating social studies into our daily instruction!
It is our responsibility as educators to make social studies a priority. The question is HOW do we teach more social studies when our day is already filled with so much content? First of all, we have to be knowledgeable of the social studies/history content we must teach based upon our school curriculum or state standards. Then, we must be creative in teaching the content. Teaching civic responsibility, resolving conflict, and effective communication can be taught at the beginning of the school year when teaching our students the classroom rules and responsibilities and can also be taught throughout the year when teaching character education. Finally, we must integrate more social studies content during our school day.
We can begin teaching more social studies content by reading informational text. When students are interested in a topic they read more information and even begin to write about it. Many students will not do this “on their own” so it is our responsibility to introduce and stimulate their interest. As you get to know your students better, you will find what topics interest them.
Movies can also stimulate students’ interest in history and social studies and can be great discussion starters. The use of any technology with this generation can be effective in stimulating students’ interest. As with anything we teach, we need to be conscious of the content and chose age appropriate material.
I am challenging myself to implement social studies and history into my math instruction. During “Calendar” time, I am teaching the history of the days of the week, the months of the year, and anything else I can think of. During regular math instruction, I expose my students to background knowledge and historical facts. The students seem to enjoy learning about the images and symbols on our currency and the history behind the images and symbols. They seem eager to learn more. Measurement is full of facts and information as most math concepts are. Student interest and engagement is increased when students have background knowledge and can make relevant connections.
Without an education in history and social studies, we are bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. Therefore, it is crucial that we teach our students about history and social studies on a regular basis and not allow it to be a LOST SUBJECT!
About the Author
Diana Remick is a 2nd grade teacher at La Junta Primary School. She has been an elementary educator for 18 years. Mrs. Remick has learned some of the best life lessons in the classroom and taught to her by her students!