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The Social Curriculum in the Primary Years

By Tania Gaffney  – Deputy Principal Primary

The Second Plane of Development (6-12) is a time of great development of the mind for the child. They move from soaking things up unconsciously to becoming more reasoning, analytical, and conscious about what they are thinking about and doing. Therefore, the social aspect is very important to this age group. Tamariki are starting to see their peers as more important in their lives until, in the adolescent years, it seems to usurp the role of the family.

Because of this great social age, things may come up with your children that you have never had to deal with before in their pre-school years e.g. lying, arguing with friends, feeling left out. Children are driven by the necessity to figure out the rules of the social order of the community they are in. Trying to fit into a new class has its own set of hurdles, especially when the young 6-year-old is not always quite ready to be in an older environment.

Arguments and disagreements are part and parcel of the primary years. They argue, fall out and make up ad nauseam. This is the way of life in primary, sometimes this cycle happens and the adults don’t know because the tamariki have already learned the words and skills to figure this out for themselves. Sometimes we are very well aware of disagreements between children. Our job as adults is to help them through this time and give them the skills and language to be able to eventually sort issues out themselves.

There are many ways to do this.  A child may not have the language yet to talk through an issue.  When they come to me and say, “Bob said or did this to me”, I might ask a few questions such as “Why did they say or do that?” Usually, the answer is, “I don’t know.” I would then say, “Perhaps you could ask them” and carry on from there, giving them language with which to talk to the other child.  Sometimes I will sit down with ākonga who have an issue and we will talk through it, seeing how everyone feels and what could be done about it. Sometimes an older child can sit down with a couple of children and take them through the same thing.

Over the years, I have often looked across the classroom and seen an older child with a couple of younger children talking through an issue; when this happens it gladdens my heart as this is what we have been aiming for.

When there are regular issues that crop up, we may deal with these within a class meeting or devise a grace and courtesy lesson that will bring that thing up in a humorous way. What we as adults need to remember is that this is a learning curve for tamariki just as times tables or reading is something they are still learning.

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