Navigating Social Studies: What Does My Child Need to Take?
As an online teacher and former history department chair, I have been asked this question many times. While the scope and sequence of some subjects are fairly straightforward, deciding when to take social studies classes (history, geography, government, or economics) can be tricky for a homeschooling family.
There Is No Concrete Answer
The bad news is that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer. From my observations, every state has slightly different high school graduation requirements for social studies. Colleges can have different entrance requirements. And every child is different. So if you want a simple, prescribed plan that suits every child and satisfies every possible requirement, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Navigating Social Studies: Some Basic Advice
The good news is that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer! You can be flexible about how you structure your child’s social studies classes. As a homeschooling family, you don’t have to fit your child’s educational plan into someone else’s model. However, there are a few things you may want to do as you make your own plan.
1. Check your state’s high school graduation requirements. When you create your child’s high school transcript, you may want it to look like other students’ transcripts from your state. These requirements can usually be found online.
2. Check the entrance requirements for the colleges that your child is interested in attending. This information should be readily available on the colleges’ undergraduate admissions pages. Note what they call social studies classes. On your student’s high school transcript, you can use these names so that the admissions officer can easily identify them. For example, if the college is looking for U.S. Government, use that instead of Civics on your transcript.
3. Check the suggested grade levels of the textbooks that you want to use. This shouldn’t tie you in to a certain sequence, but it could be a guideline to consider. At Excelsior Classes, our online classes use textbooks published by Bob Jones and Abeka, which are rigorous texts written from a Christian perspective. Check their websites for information about the text you’re interested in. One possible sequence of classes with Excelsior is World Geography in 9th grade, World History in 10th grade, U.S. History in 11th grade, and U.S. Government and Economics in 12th grade. However, in my own state I have noticed that many public high schools are teaching U.S. Government and Economics in the 9th grade. Again, don’t feel forced into any particular sequence. Think about what suits your family best and enjoy the freedom to choose.
About the Author
Susan Eggers loves learning about the past and the people of our world, and sharing that love with her students. She attended Wake Forest University as a William Louis Poteat scholar, where she earned her B. A. in History, graduating magna cum laude. Continuing her studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she received her M. A. in Russian history and completed additional hours of graduate coursework toward a Ph. D. While in graduate school, Susan received grants to conduct research in the Lenin Library and the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art in Moscow, the National Library and the Russian State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg, the Slavic and East European Library at the University of Illinois, and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. She has presented conference papers across the country and has published several articles on Russian history.