Social Studies

What is Social Studies?

Simply, Social Studies is the integrated course of study that deals with human relationships and the way society works - past, present, and future.  Social Studies consists of five basic components which are:

  • History
  • Cultures and Societies
  • Civics and Government
  • Geography
  • Economics

Some educational standards in specific countries, provinces, or states choose to add anthropology, archaeology, philosophy, or psychology.  When some of these components are added, it may be referred to as "Social Sciences".

The Problem:

When it comes to teaching social studies, the homeschool parent wants to know what to teach and when, and how to determine if they are adequately preparing their child for the future.  Parents begin searching for an adequate Social Studies curriculum with limited understanding of what they actually need.  Social Studies curricula are full of unnecessary redundancy, and even privately published homeschool curricula are written to align with "standards" of public schools.  While the definition of "social studies" emphasizes that children are supposed to be taught to make their own decisions in civic competence, politics and society, most secular curriculum is written to influence the student's actual decisions.  Even religiously-oriented curriculum leaves out important historical events to influence whichever sectarian theology is at hand.  When it comes to the context of most textbooks, it is mostly about mundane memorization of names, dates, and events.  Parents who know history can become frustrated, and children can get confused, and parents are always searching for something better.  

The Solution:

We should understand that Social Studies is NOT a sequential subject.  It does not have an order, but we are led to believe that it must be taught by grade level because of national education “standards” which we are accustomed to following.   Math is the ONLY sequential subject where concepts must be taught and mastered in a specific order.  The truth is, there should not be grade levels in Social Studies.  The components of Social Studies should be integrated in any order and should be taught at the highest level that the child can comprehend - which is not specific to age or grade, rather by individuality.  

Social Studies is primarily about important conversations.  Your 8 year old can have conversations alongside your 14 year old.  They can discuss history, learn geography, and do any of the components.  Most 8 year olds are more privy to stand and speak their mind than 14 year olds who have been conditioned for a longer period of time to quell their views.

There are many more interesting ways to teach Social Studies for retention, than the way it has been taught in the past 110 years.

Within the five components of history, geography, culture and society, civics and government, and economics - there are basic skills which should be mastered.  From the youngest ages of reading and writing all the way to college, all of the skills can be taught without a separate social studies curriculum.

What are those skills needed, and how do you teach it without a curriculum?

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