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Social studies facts for kids

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Social studies is the name of a course or set of courses taught in primary and secondary schools or elementary, middle, and high schools, but is also sometimes the study of parts of human society at tertiary schools around the world.

At primary school, social studies is usually about the local community and family. By middle and high school, social studies includes many subjects about past and current human behavior and interactions. Usually, social studies taught in middle and high school is in the form of history, civics, economics and geography.

Social studies is a little different than social science, though many of the social sciences are covered in social studies.

Subject fields

Social studies is not a subject, instead functioning as a field of study that incorporates many different subjects. It primarily includes the subjects of history, geography, economics, civics and sociology. Through all of that, the elements of ethics, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, art and literature are incorporated into the subject field itself. The field of study itself focuses on human beings and their respective relationships. With that, many of these subjects include some form of social utility that is beneficial to the subject field itself. The whole field is rarely taught; typically, a few subjects combined are taught. Recognition of the field has, arguably, lessened the significance of history, with the exception of U.S. History. Initially, only History and Civics were significant parts of the high school curriculum; eventually, Economics became a significant part of the high school curriculum, as well. While History and Civics were already established, the significance of Economics in the high school curriculum is more recent. History and Civics are similar in many ways, though they differ in class activity. There was some division between scholars on the topic of merging the subjects, though it was agreed that presenting a full picture of the world to students was extremely important.

Teaching social studies

To teach social studies in the United States, one must obtain a valid teaching certification to teach in that given state and a valid subject specific certification in social studies. The social studies certification process focuses on the core areas: history, geography, economics, civics and political science. Each state has specific requirements for the certification process and the teacher must follow the specific guidelines of the state they wish to teach.

Ten themes of social studies

According to the National Council for the Social Studies, there are ten themes that represent the standards about human experience that is constituted in the effectiveness of social studies as a subject study from pre-K through 12th grade.


The study of culture and diversity allows learners to experience culture through all stages from learning to adaptation, shaping their respective lives and society itself. This social studies theme includes the principles of multiculturalism, a field of study in its own right that aims to achieve greater understanding between culturally diverse groups of students as well as including the experiences of culturally diverse learners in the curriculum.

Time, continuity, and change

Learners examine the past and the history of events that lead to the development of the current world. Ultimately, the learners will examine the beliefs and values of the past to apply them to the present. Learners build their inquiry skills in the study of history.

People, places, and environment

Learners will understand who they are and the environment and places that surround them. It gives spatial views and perspectives of the world to the learner. This theme is largely contained in the field of geography, which includes the study of humanity's connections with resources, instruction in reading maps and techniques and perspectives in analyzing information about human populations and the Earth's systems.

Individual development and identity

Learners will understand their own personal identity, development, and actions. Through this, they will be able to understand the influences that surround them.

Individuals, groups, and institutions

Learners will understand how groups and institutions influence people's everyday lives. They will be able to understand how groups and institutions are formed, maintained, and changed.

Power, authority, and governance

Learners will understand the forms of power, authority, and governance from historical to contemporary times. They will become familiar with the purpose of power, and with the limits that power has on society.

Production, distribution, and consumption

Learners will understand the organization of goods and services, ultimately preparing the learner for the study of greater economic issues. The study of economic issues, and with it, financial literacy, is intended to increase students' knowledge and skills when it comes to participating in the economy as workers, producers, and consumers.

Science, technology, and society

Learners will understand the relationship between science, technology, and society, understanding the advancement through the years and the impacts they have had.

Global connections

Learners will understand the interactive environment of global interdependence and will understand the global connections that shape the everyday world.

Civic ideals and practices

Learners will understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens and learn to grow in their appreciation of active citizenship. Ultimately, this helps their growth as full participants in society. Some of the values that civics courses strive to teach are an understanding of the right to privacy, an appreciation for diversity in American society, and a disposition to work through democratic procedures. One of the curricular tools used in the field of civics education is a simulated congressional hearing. Social studies educators and scholars distinguish between different levels of civic engagement, from the minimal engagement or non-engagement of the legal citizen to the most active and responsible level of the transformative citizen. Within social studies, the field of civics aims to educate and develop learners into transformative citizens who not only participate in a democracy, but challenge the status quo in the interest of social justice.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Estudios sociales para niños

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