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Social Studies

At The Little School, our social studies curriculum is interdisciplinary, integrated closely with our social-emotional and language and literacy curriculum, as well as our specialist classes. Diversity of all kinds – including but not limited to racial, cultural, physical, religious, social and class differences – enhance our lives collectively and individually, and we strive to celebrate diversity in all of its expressions. As children grow and develop, their awareness of cultures and differences also expands – from family and community to country and world. Big areas of learning include geography, cultural traditions and celebrations, history, exploration, power, conflict and peace. We seek experiences that stretch and challenge students – field trips, speakers, books, current events – which introduce differences that may or may not be representative of the class group.

Early Childhood Level (ages 3-5)

The youngest children begin to learn about social structures through what they know: their families and each other. How families and individuals are similar and different are subjects that are explored through play, discussion, and stories. Some of these experiences become departure points for other discoveries of countries and cultures. Holidays, birthdays and celebrations also provide opportunities to begin widening the perspective of students as they start to understand that not everyone is the same when it comes to festivities, food and community. A sense of classroom identity and responsibility is fostered through rotating classroom jobs, daily cleaning and meetings, and participation in some of the decisions that affect individuals and the group as a whole.

Primary Level (ages 5-8)

Diversity of all kinds, including racial, cultural, social and class differences enhance our lives collectively, helping students understand the ideas and feelings of others. Students begin with a growing awareness of similarities and differences in an ever-expanding community, beginning with the nuclear family in the home and moving outward. Learning about the variety of ways people live occurs through sharing food, holidays, religion, family values, structures and traditions, using a wide variety of literature, art, pictures, artifacts and experiences both within the room and beyond. Children receive strong supportive messages that their family beliefs and rituals are right for them but not necessarily everyone else. Class meetings provide opportunities to take part in the democratic process, solving common problems or setting norms and community responsibilities. Social stories and role playing are introduced as effective ways to solve problems. Students are exposed to the diverse world outside their own through music, plays, literature, photographs and field trips. These activities are often integrated with language and literacy.

Intermediate Level (ages 8-11)

Intermediate Social StudiesSocial studies begins with learning about the individuals in the group and creating social norms within the group that promote respectful listening and sharing, inclusive actions and words, effortful communication and awareness of different perspectives. Class meetings are a forum for exploring social issues, practicing the democratic process, and generating solutions and common language about our community. Broader social studies topics typically rotate on a cycle – Washington State, United States and world – where the big areas of learning include geography, current events, political history, exploration, culture (native and colonial), power, conflict and peace. Topics of social studies are nearly always integrated with language arts and social-emotional learning. We strive to stretch and challenge students through field trips, guest speakers and books which introduce diverse perspectives and voices that may or may not be representative of the class group.