Embracing Social Studies in the Elementary Classroom

“You don’t need to teach social studies in first grade. They’ll learn all that stuff when they get to middle school.”

I absolutely cringe when I hear these words. We have become a system that places such little value on teaching social studies in the lower grades. Since the enactment of No Child Left Behind, 44% of schools have reduced the amount of educational time allotted for social studies (Council of Chief State School Offices). With so much emphasis placed on test scores, subjects that are not assessed, like social studies have gone out the window. In fact, only 23% of American 8th graders are said to be proficient in civics (NAEP assessment).

It seems that in many elementary schools, social studies is just a subject that is taught “if there’s extra time.” What if teachers said the same about other subjects:

“Oh they’ll learn multiplication in 6th grade, I don’t need to teach it.”

“They’ll learn how to write a real paragraph in 7th grade.”

“I don’t have enough time for math this month. Oh well.”

No. That would never fly.