My kids were geeked at birth. At about 18 months my girls would wait to see Voyager during the opening credits, point excitedly and say ”Sarsip!!”
I thought we were going to jump into the remaining 20 pages of prehistory in Usborne, talk some about hominid evolution, and be on to cultural history, but no; what with Spanish, and soccer, and adding Singapore Math into our deskwork, we’ve been pretty darned swamped. Thus, for Social Studies, we’ve been curling up after dinner with some Star Trek Deep Space Nine, courtesy of Amazon Prime Streaming.
In the last two weeks, we’ve talked about the politics of war, ethnic/cultural identity, chosen family, varying cultural values around education and money (thank you, Ferengi), the role of religion in society (Kai Opaka), how teens individuate from their parents, law vs justice, the boundaries of personal responsibility, social isolation, the causes of crime and violence, and, thanks to one episode of Torchwood that I figured (wrongly) was fairly non-traumatizing, mercy killings. (Also? Love that, thanks to Torchwood presenting it as normal, my kids didn’t even blink at men kissing. Woot! Note, though – Torchwood is definitely NOT a show for kids in general – preview before showing your little ones, as some of it is just plain nightmare fodder.) And these are just the subjects I can name off the top of my head, and we aren’t even all the way through the first of seven seasons yet.
Yikes. I can’t even imagine that I’d have hit on half those subjects with five year olds without science fiction as our entry point. From our relative safety this side of the suspension of disbelief fiction barrier, we can explore some deep stuff without it being about us, or our world, and therefore not scary, even as it informs our understanding of real life experiences and issues.
I’ve read science fiction, and explored my own boundaries and paradigms through it, since I was a kid. My girls aren’t up to reading on their own yet (but look out for Big D – she’s on a reading roll!), but cuddled up with a 17″ monitor and mom seems to be working just fine. I get to see what they are seeing, we get to discuss it, and, with judicious use of the pause button, we can even do some predicting of what might happen next in the story, about how social situations might play out, etc.
Definitely the most painless (and fun and cuddly!) way to teach Social Studies that I’ve seen! (And, with Amazon Streaming, the cheapest – all Star Trek, Dr Who, and Torchwood episodes are instant and free to Amazon Prime Customers. No affiliation, just happy with this bonus to my free shipping privileges.)