Lower School students develop foundational understandings of self, community, country and world as students of Social Studies. Throughout the grade levels, we focus on basic mapping, atlas and geography skills. We also use a research methodology that is particularly effective in helping students to understand the “how” and the “what” of good research, using the framework of the Independent Investigation Method (IIM) to guide students through systematic steps for conducting research. Second through fifth grade students engage with write-in texts that are interactive and information-rich as a basis for programmatic study. The texts promote active reading and self-assessment, and the robust digital components help bring the topics to life for the students. We also draw on a variety of primary and secondary sources so that students gain greater understanding of the topics they study. In addition, the Nystrom Atlas activities and large-scale globes will allow our students to fine tune their geography literacy skills, thereby broadening their view of the world.
The Kew-Forest student body reflects the rich cultural diversity of Queens. Many different languages, ethnicities, religions, and cultural traditions can be found within the community. The Social Studies program utilizes this diverse setting as a starting point from which to study diverse cultures and perspectives. Teaching students to understand and respect cultural diversity and to view the world from different perspectives are important components of the Social Studies curriculum at all grade levels.
Across the Lower School, students engage in month-long project-based International Study, focused on geography, history and culture of a single country. All Lower School students then participate in a division-wide World Day Celebration, when they share the results of their research and perform songs, dances, and poems originating from and inspired by the countries that the classes have studied. The curriculum functions both as “window” and “mirror” in that students look through “windows” in order to see the realities of others as well as into “mirrors” in order to see his/her own reality. Thus, throughout the study, students are practicing “both/and” thinking, as they reveal a multicultural world and the student him or herself. As in all learning experiences, International Study is personal and contextual.