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National Council for the Social Studies Releases Statement on Teaching Social Studies in the Elementary Classroom

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has released a new position statement that outlines the importance of social studies education in the elementary classroom. The statement, Powerful, Purposeful Pedagogy in Elementary School Social Studies, defines how elementary-level social studies prepares students for active participation in the world around them through high quality, challenging, and developmentally appropriate learning experiences.  For young learners to become effective participants in a democratic society, social studies must be an essential part of the curriculum throughout the elementary years.

"NCSS believes the teaching of social studies should begin at the elementary level in order to create a love of learning that will last into adulthood. Our organization's elementary statement clearly articulates the power of teaching students the tenets of social studies that will last a lifetime," said NCSS President Peggy Jackson.
The position statement makes specific key recommendations for districts and schools to implement a powerful and purposeful elementary social studies program. These recommendations include adequate preparation and professional development for teachers, daily instructional time, ample resources, and assistance at the local, state, and national levels.

“The importance of restoring social studies to the forefront in the elementary curriculum was a key driver in revising the NCSS Elementary Position Statement”, said Kim Heckart, the Elementary Classroom Teacher representative on the NCSS Board of Directors and position statement writing team member.

“Utilizing the Inquiry Arc, strategies connecting to literacy and meaningful instructional practices are some of the key aspects of elementary school social studies education that are highlighted in the statement and that NCSS is committed to providing to educators through professional learning opportunities that will put the recommendations of the statement into practice," added Heckart.

"A well-rounded education begins at the elementary level with regular, sustained social studies instruction. NCSS is proud to support schools and educators in engaging all young learners through inquiry in the social studies. We invite the general public to share this position statement in advocating for strong social studies teaching and learning in their communities,” said Dr. Lawrence Paska, NCSS Executive Director. 

The National Council for the Social Studies was founded in 1921 and has grown to be the largest association in the country devoted solely to social studies education. Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. With members in all the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 69 countries, NCSS membership represents K-12 classroom teachers, college and university faculty members, curriculum designers and specialists, social studies supervisors, and leaders in the various disciplines that constitute the social studies. For more information please visit

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Ana Post