At Encinitas Country Day School, history and social studies instruction begin by providing students with the elementary “great stories” that provide a perspective on the time and place our students live. Through these stories, students begin to understand time and its measurement within local, world and geologic time frames. With the study of time, students are better able to understand their own place in the world as their study of early man and recorded history includes primitive, historic and current cultures and events. Our youngest students are introduced to various cultures and customs with an overview of world geography in their study of the continents. Aligned third and fourth grade studies include an overview of our 50 states and a study of the missions that settled our own state. Fifth and Sixth grade studies of American and world history include world civilizations and the founding and expansion of our country. Middle school study of world history through the 1700’s and United States history though 1914 prepares students for the focused studies of American and world history offered in upper school regular and advanced placement courses.
The history and geography of our world are inextricably bound together, and the ECDS Social Studies program reflects this. The program is cyclical in nature, with the hub being the concept of the fundamental needs of all living things, how the geography of our planet sets the stage for living organisms to meet these needs, and how the course of history is influenced by the quest to meet these needs. As students undertake this voyage of discovery, they will develop a true sense of their place in the world and a broad understanding and appreciation of all those who journey with them.
Lower school history and social studies begins with the child and his home, community, and country, and expands outward to include the world, the solar system, and the universe. Students begin by developing a concept of time as a regular unit of measure, and trace their own histories by creating time lines of their lives and of their families. Studies of their own, and the six other continents, as well as the cultures which have developed there, introduce them to their place on our globe and foster an appreciation of the diversity of cultures which have existed on earth over time. Studies of the plant and animal life of the continents, and the interplay between them and the human cultures of our world promote an understanding of interdependency, and the importance of preservation, conservation, and responsible stewardship.
The concept of history over long periods of time is developed through lessons, materials, experiments, and research projects which explore the beginnings of the universe and the solar system, the formation of our planet, and its geography. Students learn about the land and water forms of our planet, and perform experiments which illustrate the myriad forces which have shaped and continue to shape the earth. They are introduced to the history of life on Earth with the Time Line of Life, and continue their studies of prehistoric life with lessons, materials, and research.
The history of human life is introduced with the Time Line of Humans, and students trace the progress of the early human inhabitants of this planet through the Neolithic period. Students then study human history from the earliest migrations through the development of the great civilizations of the ancient world. In accordance with California State Standards, fourth grade students complete an in depth study of their state’s geography and history. As students complete their elementary education program, they continue their studies of more recent civilizations, the Age of Exploration, and the history and geography of the United States of America. They also explore economic interdependencies and how these affect the lives of people around the world.
Connecting is the focus of the Encinitas Country Day (ECDS) Middle School History program, connecting past to present: examining universal human traits and activities, and bringing lessons of the past to bear on today’s world. Our courses cover the details of history – the leaders, inventions and innovations, wars and empires that form the tapestry of our human heritage. We also examine social, economic, and geographical issues, looking always for the common themes, the universal needs and desires that drive human behavior.
ECDS History courses are aligned to California Standards and lead our students on journeys through cultures and periods at once alien and familiar. We learn that even “ancient” civilizations are not really far removed from us, just around a bend in the river of time. Students read beyond the textbook – primary source materials, historical documents – and write a variety of journal entries, essays, and commentaries; they conduct research and write papers in MLA format; they create PowerPoint presentations and teach lessons. Through study of the past, our students become today’s – and tomorrow’s – knowledgeable citizens, neighbors, and leaders.