Building Social Studies Skills
Tips for Parents
Watch the television news together on occasion. Let the events on thenews -- human interest stories, hurricanes, elections, and the peoples andevents of other countries -- become a basis for conversation. You might alsowatch documentaries about historical figures with your child; biography is agood basis for helping children learn about history. Such documentaries arebecoming more common, especially on public television and certain cablenetworks.
Children in intermediate grades will notice and ask about the problems thatthey see around them: homelessness drugs, conflict. It is good to talk aboutthese issues. Ask your child whether he or she is discussing such topics inschool. Does your child have unanswered questions?
Look at photographs together. Family pictures showing you and your child atdifferent ages are a good choice. Ask, "What can you remember about theseearlier times? What is different now?" You will find that your child willnot tire of looking at pictures of family members.
Using a magazine such as National Geographic or photos from thenewspaper or newsmagazines, see what your child knows about the relationshipsbetween where people live and how they live. For example, you might ask,"Why do you suppose people in certain parts of Queensland, Australia, buildtheir houses on stilts?" (Because they live in a rain forest environmentwith lots of water and occasional floods.)
Ask what your child thinks it might have been like to live in differenthistorical periods.
What countries does your child know about? Can your child find thesecountries on a globe or map? Discuss different countries together, perhapsreading about them in a magazine article or an encyclopedia.
Look at a bus or train schedule together. Does your child understand how itis organized? Can he or she make use of it?
Children celebrate a variety of holidays in school. President's Day, MartinLuther King, Jr., Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and in some settingsCinco de Mayo receive the most attention. These celebrations are goodopportunities to ask your child what he or she has learned about the presidents,Martin Luther King, Jr., and various national traditions; your child's awarenessshould be expanding each year.
Ask your child to share with you what he or she has learned about differentethnic and cultural groups in and around your community. What has your childlearned about African Americans, Hispanics, Vietnamese, and Cambodians? Is yourchild reading books and stories by or about members of these groups?
Your child will be learning about the Native American peoples. See whatNative American cultures your child has studied. Does he or she know about theMayas? Ask how we know about the life of the American Indians before theEuropeans came.
Reprinted from 101 Educational Conversations with Your 4th Grader by Vito Perrone, published by Chelsea House Publishers.
Copyright 1994 by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.by Chelsea House Publishers, a division of Main Line Book Co. All rights reserved.