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 educations. And your kids start off learning all of this in kindergarten social studies.

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.

Get curious

Kindergarten kids start to learn about time and space as an introduction to the concepts of history and geography. They should learn to distinguish past, present, and future time in their own lives and practice exploring various school locales.

Kindergartners also learn about national holidays and the stories of the people whose contributions we value enough to commemorate. In that vein, they’ll learn about courage, heroism, and justice by studying famous examples from U.S. history.

“Social studies for young children needs to develop from children’s natural curiosity about the world around them and their immediate environment,” says Donna Adkins, Arkansas’s 2004 Teacher of the Year.

Government rules

As members of a classroom community, kindergartners get a great introduction to the study of government by discussing rules and appropriate behavior. They should also learn to associate certain types of behavior with society’s expectations for what it means to be a good citizen.

Adkins explains that one of the “most important skills young children can develop is the ability to get along and work with others. Teachers of young children spend much time helping children see the importance of being able to work and play with others.”

Here is what you can expect your child to do in kindergarten social studies

  • Become familiar with the events and people associated with U.S. national holidays
  • Put days, weeks, and months in the proper order
  • Recognize national and state symbols and icons, such as the flags and the Statue of Liberty
  • Learn that the world is divided into countries and that there are similarities and differences among cultures
  • Tell or show the difference between land and water on a globe or map
  • Begin to learn how his experience in his family, school and community differs from that of people in other countries and other times

What to look for when you visit

  • Maps and a globe
  • Calendars that reinforce the concept of time
  • Books with folktales from other cultures and biographies of historical figures
  • The teacher leading children in songs and games from other countries or other eras
  • Posted lists of rules about sharing, taking turns and other aspects of good classroom citizenship