The Child and the Family: Social, Cultural, and Health-Related Issues at Home and in School

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Children must struggle with many issues while making their way toward adulthood. Teachers’ understandings of family culture and the interconnections between health and learning are crucial to children's success in the classroom and central to the content of this course. We will study how families affect the development of children, for no other unit of analysis more richly displays gender, social, and cultural factors and their influence on individual behavior and development. Today, children spend more time than ever before in early childhood programs and grade schools. We will investigate how families and schools provide a framework for the exploration of the social world and socialize children according to cultural norms. Health and learning are intertwined in the context of the child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. In order for teachers to be equipped to help their students in the areas of personal health and safety, we will review the national and state health learning standards, as well as the range of environmental factors that inhibit children’s development and learning (including the identification and implications of drug and alcohol abuse). We will also examine the social, political, and psychological concerns faced by children with chronic diseases and by their families, and the plethora of health-care issues with which they must contend. Through readings and case-study analyses, students will explore the importance of teachers’ understanding of the complexities of the lives of children and families to better prepare them for the challenges of the classroom.