Teaching Social Studies in Primary Classes
Environmental Studies is a major subject introduced in the Primary school stage. Introduced to children in Classes I and II, this subject is focused on the immediate environment of the child. At this stage no distinction is made between natural and social elements.
From Class III onwards, Environmental Studies is bifurcated into two broad groups - natural environment and physical & social environment. Drawing its components from various social sciences, Social studies is introduced at this stage. In the Primary classes, Social studies is aimed at widening the mental horizon of the child. He is introduced to the life of people in three gradual stages - firstly in the State where he lives, then in various parts of the country and thirdly in various parts of the world. The child is also introduced to important elements of the cultural heritage of our country India, various events and developments that have helped in shaping the life of the people of the country as well as of various countries of the world.
In the early stages of a child's mental development, it is imperative for the teacher to provide as much knowledge on varied topics to the child as is possible. Using a variety of Teaching aids in the class will not only keep the child engrossed in the lesson, but it will also reiterate the subject matter being taught.
Every lesson in a good text book comes with activities which will help the child in self-learning and also in the development and understanding of different concepts. This style of presentation of the content will help you to make your teaching activity based. Questions for oral as well as written answers along with practical assignments will encourage children to learn with greater self effort.
It is a great idea to make use of the immediate environment in the teaching process. Many a time, the activities included in a text-book are not sufficient although they do provide guidelines for designing further activities. Questions that are not directly related to the content of the lesson must be introduced to the children from time to time. Such questions can be related to population education, pollution, protection of forests and so on. Children may be guided to find the answers to these questions. Group discussions, referring to books in the library and interacting with members of society associated with the different aspects of life must be encouraged. In these cases, credence to the creativity and originality of the children's answers must be given.
While teaching about the different States of the country and the varied culture, you can elicit specific information from the children themselves. Their daily life activities, observations of their family life and their participation in community life will provide you with the desired information. If the questions given in the exercises do not elicit complete information, you can frame more questions as per the topic.
The extensive use of aids makes the teaching of Social studies more interesting. Therefore, the text book should be used by the students only as a reference resource. Reading aloud of the content from the textbook should definitely be avoided. Exposure to real life situations will make the teaching of Social studies more effective. Photographs and illustrations can be used for elaborating the text. Map reading should form an important part of activity based learning. The skill of locating places on a map should be fully developed in the Primary classes as it lays the foundation for good map reading in the subsequent higher classes as well as much later in life. Students should also be encouraged to initiate map work. Besides tracing the map, they can also learn to shade and colour broad areas of distribution of vegetation, crops, industries and population.
The teaching of Social studies provides immense opportunities to inculcate good values and attitudes in the children. These values may be related to national identity, freedom struggle, our cultural heritage, the small family norm, removal of sex bias, democracy, socialism and secularism. Although a greater part of the subject matter is incorporated in text books, a lot depends on the way teachers create the desired environment which is so essential to inculcate these values.