Helping Your Child with Social Studies
Suggested ways parents can help their children develop essential social studies and life-enhancing skills. Parents can ask teachers for more ideas.
• Tell family stories. Parents will enjoy remembering their childhood experiences and children will gain a perspective on their own heritage.
• Encourage children to read newspapers. Read the paper and listen to news broadcasts with them. Show them that there is more to a newspaper than comics and sports. Ask the child’s social studies teacher about relevant magazines and subscribe to them.
• Visit historic sites, banks, and courthouses. These institutions can provide valuable information children can then relate to classroom instruction. Make an appointment with a political representative and discuss current issues. Find books in the library which relate the significance of historic sites. Visit Austin and observe the state legislature in session.
• Explore the geography of backyards, local neighborhoods, and parks and discuss it. What natural resources exist? Ask children to identify different types of animals, plants, and landforms. How do they affect human life today? Have they changed over time? How?
• Watch the weather forecast together and chart the meteorologist’s accuracy. Track the flow of low pressure systems and weather disturbances such as hurricanes and discuss the impact of various weather phenomena on human behavior.
• Spend time in museums. Don’t just walk around; discuss the objects exhibited and the information included in the labels. Find out if there are special workshops or tours and participate in them.
• Locate and attend various cultural activities such as American Indian powwows, Cinco de Mayo celebrations, Juneteenth festivals, and Fourth of July events. Explore culture-specific cuisine such as Chinese, Cuban, Vietnamese, French, German, Italian, and Mexican restaurants. Discuss the diverse foodstuffs and diets found around the world.
• Engage children in reading maps. Allow them to help plan routes for trips to grandmother’s house, or the grocery store, or the school. Suggest that they keep a journal of family trips and vacations.
• Consider answering a question with a question. Help children learn the process of evaluating material and drawing their own conclusions by encouraging them to answer their own questions.
Parents can then modify the conclusion but children will have developed critical thinking skills through the process. Foster critical thinking skills by involving children in family decisions.
• Buy social studies software for the home computer. This is a wonderful resource because most of these programs are interactive, allowing parents and children to pursue their own interests. These are also many computer games which teach social studies knowledge and skills. Bookmark useful social studies sites on the Internet browser.
Texas Social Studies Frameworks, Chapter 8