The social studies curriculum is designed around five basic themes or "strands" drawn from the disciplines of history, geography, economics, political science and sociology. Units in each of the five strands are taught each year, although the emphasis and amount of time devoted to each of the strands varies according to grade level.
The major goals of the program are that children will:
§ Know and understand that the past enriches the present and gives them a sense of identity in time,
§ Build skills in geography by learning to use and analyze a variety of maps and globes,
§ Acquire economic competence by exploring some basic economic concepts and their application in the family and community,
§ Have early opportunities to participate in discussions and decision-making and to form positive attitudes about political interest and involvement, as well as participatory citizenship, and
§ Develop cultural awareness in order to better understand themselves, their heritage and the connection with others who live in the world.
Activities and experiences within each grade level unit are designed to spiral from a very personal level to an increasingly global perspective. In addition, the teaching of content is balanced by the teaching of skills and processes to help students apply their knowledge to new situations and challenges.
In Social studies, as in science, field site experiences for the children and exciting topical presentations brought to the school complement classroom instruction. Local and regional resources, such as the Upper St. Clair 1830 Log House, Meadowcroft Village, and Clayton - the Frick family mansion offer children glimpses into the past while informing and shaping their present.
In addition, multi-media materials such as the innovative CD-ROM Postcards program offer opportunities for students to "visit" Japan, Ghana and Mexico, cultural studies at levels 2, 3 and 4, and send postcards written in narrative, descriptive or persuasive styles. Supplemental texts, tradebooks, maps and globes are also used as resources for social studies.