Your first grader and social studies

Students get a glimpse of history, geography, and culture by studying our country's traditions.

By GreatSchools Staff

Who recalls the dates of the Byzantine Empire? Or that the Ohlone Indians spoke one of the Utian languages? Details from social studies are easy to forget once we graduate to the real world. Still, such primers in history, geography, politics, and anthropology are crucial to our children's education.

How do you know if your child’s social studies curriculum stacks up? Check out our grade-by-grade milestones to understand your state and national standards.

In the classroom

First graders should expect to expand their understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizens by coming to see their classroom as a microcosm of society. Kids can learn about democracy while practicing good sportsmanship, voting on classroom rules, or holding mock elections.

First graders continue to study the significance of national holidays and learn to identify the symbols, documents, and landmarks important in U.S. history. Through books, art projects, theater, and music, they learn about people who lived in other times and places. They should learn to compare life in their own families with families in other cultures and be able to locate other communities on a globe.

Donna Adkins, the 2004 Arkansas Teacher of the Year, advises parents to start with family and community. "One way to help children understand how life changes over time," she says, "would be for them to spend time with older adults, grandparents or neighbors, letting them tell them about their childhood. Then discuss similarities and differences between then and now."

What you can expect your first-grader to do or learn:

What to look for when visiting your child's classroom