Abstract 12- Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 2010

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 5, Number 2, Summer 2010




Nurturing Young Social Studies Learners’ Notions of Democracy

Maxie Pate Kohler
Lois McFadyen Christensen
University of Alabama, Birmingham


When educators, families, and children come together in the classroom to share their diverse cultures, potential exists for learning concepts about democracy, citizenship, and social justice through an immersion experience of interacting together. By involving families and encouraging interaction among them, social studies teachers can organize opportunities to develop democratic learning environments. Such an environment can have a bearing on how children and their families experience a sense of community. Teachers who plan intentional interactions among families of diverse cultures where parents can learn from each other may modify parental child-rearing practices. The three basic parenting styles that can be associated with a young child’s social development are authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive types. It is through these parental exchanges that alternative parenting styles can be observed and possibly adopted. Early childhood social studies educators can support children and caretakers to envision a just and compassionate democracy.

Key Words: child-rearing, citizenship, democracy, early childhood social studies, parenting, social justice

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About the Author(s)…

Maxie Pate Kohler, Associate Professor of Educational Psychology & Research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Service, research, & grant writing activities focus on working in the mental health field, post-secondary education, parenting, & socialization. She can be contacted at mkohler@uab.edu.

Lois McFadyen Christensen, Professor of Curriculum & Instruction at University of Alabama at Birmingham. An early childhood education & elementary education social studies specialist for undergraduate & graduate levels. For six years, she collaborated in a cross-disciplined course on Birmingham Civil Rights. Publications and presentations are often with in-service teachers pertaining to social studies — social justice, Reggio Emilia inspired approaches, women’s issues, and qualitative methods.

Citation for this Article: Kohler, M. P., & Christensen, L. M. (2010). Nurturing young social studies learners’ notions of democracy. Social Studies Research and Practice, 5(2), 115-119. Retrieved from http://www.socstrp.org/issues/PDF/ 5.2.12.pdf.