Teaching Community & Citizenship to Primary Students


“What community are you a part of?”  This is a common question that is asked when introducing the topic of community.  However, what if we took a step back and asked ourselves this question?  What community or more likely communities are you a part of?  We all strive to be part of a community for a multitude of reasons.  Students are no different.  What does Teaching Community and Citizenship to Primary Students look like?

So now you may have had some time to think about it… what community/communities do you identify as being a member of?   Perhaps you automatically think about where you live or your workplace. How about a Religious Community?  Or perhaps you are a member of the LGBTQ+ Community.  Or you are part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community? Either way, why do we search to be a part of a community? 

Community & Citizenship 

We all strive for a sense of belonging.  We are all inherently social creatures. When we feel like we belong and are surrounded by “like-minded” individuals, I think we are more likely to be ourselves.  For example, you may feel more comfortable calling out “Amen” loudly and proudly after a moving statement when you are in your Religious Community.  Or, you may feel safe and proud when surrounded by friends and family celebrating your heritage.  All of these feelings can be brought into the classroom.  

Whether we, as educators, realize it or not… as soon as a student walks into your classroom they are walking into a community of learners.  YOUR community of learners.  So how can we be sure that we open our classroom doors for the opportunity of our next class to build their community together?  How can we ensure that students have a voice as well? Why is it important that our students see themselves within their community?

Direct Instruction of Community & Citizenship

Direct instruction is probably one of the most common teaching practices in the classroom.  With good reason.  There are many ways to engage and teach students, but direct instruction is a pretty straightforward technique.  Not only an evidence-based method, but the focus is on the teacher presenting the exact material/concept that they want their students to learn and comprehend.  

Education to the Core understands what educators are looking for these days.  That is a comprehensive Social Studies Unit!  You guessed it the first month is dedicated purely to Community and Citizenship!  For good reason too!  With numerous direct instruction opportunities, this resource has it ALL to make it easy to incorporate into any classroom!  

What’s the ‘NAME’ of the Game?!? 

What is one of our first objectives as an educator at the beginning of the year?  Learning our students’ names and building relationships.  Names are part of our identity.  Also, it is one of the first things Early Childhood and even perhaps Kindergarten teachers start off the school year with.  Names

Learning each other’s names helps build community and foster friendships.  Let’s take a step back for a moment.  Names are all around us, especially in the classroom.  Students walk in on the first day seeing their names on their desks.  Fostering ownership.  They see their names on bulletin boards. A sense of belonging.  They hear you providing shoutouts to them using their names for positive reinforcement and specific praise. Empowerment and motivation. 

Names matter.  At the beginning of the year while classmates are getting to know each other, let your students take the lead.  Allow them to share things about themselves.  Their favorites, their families, pets, and a bit more about their lives.  Not only will this help them learn the others’ names, but begin to foster a healthy and happy community of learners. 

Daily Class Meetings on Community & Citizenship

One of the many things I enjoy about community and citizenship building in my classroom is that I can incorporate it into any lesson or subject.  Any time of the day.   Setting the tone of the day first thing is always a goal of mine.  From the music, I play in the background to me standing at the doorway greeting all of my students arriving. 

Start each day with a purpose.  Morning Meeting Slides are a great way to check in with your students.  Morning meetings are so flexible that you have your students complete them individually upon arrival then share whole group or complete them as a whole group to start the day. Also, as part of my morning meeting, I always discuss the routine and schedule of the day.  By doing so not only am I allowing my students to know what is coming up next, but also an opportunity to discuss expectations.

Remember how I said that I love to incorporate community and citizenship into any lesson and subject?  Whether you have 5 minutes or 50 minutes a day, bringing Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons into your classroom not only helps with community building but coping, self-management, emotions, and so much more too!  

While in the classroom, when SEL is carried out, it naturally creates a caring and positive community environment.  These skills nurture caring and appropriate relationships among students and adults. Naturally becoming better citizens. When educators incorporate students’ experiences, strengths, and support, they create an inclusive and equitable classroom.  Strong relationships promote student growth, collaboration, and becoming an overall better human being and citizen.

Student-Centered – Student Focused 

I always believe that students should see themselves in their classroom and community.  From the books that we read.  To the activities we complete.  To the instructional videos we see.  Each child should be able to see themselves.  Our classrooms are our second homes personally, however, we share that home with on average, 25 other little scholars.  

Keeping the classroom student-centered and student-focused, we can foster a healthy community mindset.  The beginning of the school year is a great time to begin that community building and discussing what makes a good citizen in and out of the classroom.  

With activities like “Find A Friend”, show and tells, as well as other getting to know you activities… you are allowing your community to share and get to know each other.  Also, consider allowing your students to have a voice at the beginning of the year.  Allow them to have a say in classroom rules and expectations.  It is what they believe their community should look like. 

How are you planning on incorporating and building your classroom community?  Be sure to let us know in the comments below and in our Education to the Core community of Teaching Trailblazers.  When you join our community on Facebook (Fearless Kindergarten Teachers, Fearless First Grade Teachers, Fearless Second Grade Teachers), Instagram, Teaching Tiny Humans Email Series, Podcast, and Premium Membership you are joining a community of thousand like-minded individuals like yourself.  Gaining advice, amazing resources, sharing ideas, and even voicing your concerns and complaints.  Our community is family.

Written By – Christopher Olson


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Welcome! I’m Emily, Founder of Education to the Core. We are all about helping K-2 teachers by providing unlimited access to affordable printables for every subject area.