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.
Some exciting news from Excelsior Classes is that we are now able to offer some of our classes for dual credit through LeTourneau University! World History and U.S. Government are being offered for dual enrollment, although the dual enrollment option is not required for these classes.
Susan Eggers holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in Russian history. She has completed coursework toward her Ph. D. and has conducted research in libraries and archives in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Her first teaching position was at the college level, and after she started homeschooling her three children in 2003, she began teaching history and geography online. She and her family live in upstate South Carolina, where they enjoy reading, gardening, and playing with their two large dogs.