If you are new to homeschooling, you may find yourself wondering how to teach social studies. After all, aren’t social studies traditionally taught in classroom environments with group projects and community opportunities?
Thankfully, there are plenty of options for teaching homeschool social studies!
Social studies for homeschoolers may have a different format than seen in traditional schools. However, the information is learned and applied in many of the same ways. Kids’ activities are perfect resources for learning the geography of the world, and methods like unschooling or project-based learning bring real-world elements into daily lessons.
Before we begin, let’s examine what social studies cover.
Here is what you’ll learn in this article:
- What are social studies?
- How to teach geography
- How to teach history
- How to teach government and economics
What Are Social Studies?
The term “social studies” encompasses a group of related subjects about the community, social relationships, politics, and foreign affairs. Usually, social studies cover history, geography, economics, government, and even political science.
High schoolers typically cover the complex subjects, while previous grades lay the foundation with basic information.
On that note, social studies can be broken into simpler elements for the youngest students; even for preschoolers. They may focus more on the concept of communities than anything else. Additionally, elementary students could learn the geography of the world with hands-on crafts or games!
Thanks to the incredible variation of homeschooling, parents can adjust social studies to fit their ideal learning style, whether their preferences fall within a structured homeschool curriculum, a freestyle method, or even unschooling!
Social studies are important, but often slightly pushed aside while language arts or math take the center stage. Each core subject is equally necessary for a well-rounded education. Here are a few resources to get started! (Some of these links will take you away from Homeschool.com.)
How to Teach Geography
To learn the geography of the world, there are many available homeschool curricula, projects, and activities for kids!
One of our favorite methods, especially with young students, is project-based learning!
Geography kid activities are a wonderful way to help your children stay engaged while having fun! Everyone learns best when they are enjoying the experience. With that in mind, it is helpful to look for educational games or real-world opportunities to teach geography.
Learning about other societies is vital for widening our worldview beyond our backyard.
Our location in this world is partly responsible for shaping who we are. The study of other cultures and their geography may feel remote to our children, but everyone is connected and we impact each other. That’s why virtual field trips are such a great experience!
Mastering geography is about so much more than states and capitals. Geography includes information about demographics, animals, climates, leadership, and so on.
To start teaching geography, you’ll first need to determine your child’s placement level. It is always helpful to assess where your student should begin. Next, choose an area of study. Decide which main topic you’d like to set as your focus for the year. For example, you could choose a specific country like England!
Here are a few resources for teaching homeschool geography. (Some of these links will take you away from Homeschool.com.)
How to Teach History
History lessons are important for all ages! There is a massive amount of history content and curriculum available for each grade level in the homeschool market. Homeschooling families truly get their pick!
One of our favorite approaches for teaching is with unit studies. A unit study offers the opportunity to explore a particular topic (i.e. the Revolutionary War) through the lenses of multiple subjects. Unit studies pair seamlessly with social studies lessons!
When teaching history, it’s essential to consider the importance of asking relevant questions.
How has history impacted and shaped our present-day? If history is not studied, it will repeat. We need to study our roots, how we have failed, and how we have succeeded. Both our strengths and weaknesses should be examined.
Another important aspect of teaching history is the use of qualifiers and parameters.
This is when you’ll decide on the specific area of study. What type of history should your homeschooler learn? Or, which regions of the world should they study, and why?
Finally, you’ll want to consider your method. Unit studies? Project-based learning? School-at-home? Unschooling? The possibilities are endless!
Here are resources to get started! (Some of these links will take you away from Homeschool.com.)
How to Teach Government and Economics
Government and economics are most important to study in high school, but students can begin learning basic concepts in middle and elementary school.
You can begin with a question, like “How does the U.S. government work?”
With that leading question, you can delve into how to become active voters, citizen responsibility, how the voting system works, what the different elections mean, and how to make informed decisions.
As for economics, topics may focus on how the U.S. economy works and the definition and application of capitalism.
Ask questions like: How do businesses thrive and expand in our economy? What is the stock market? What is federal aid? Why would it be provided?
A big part of social studies is examining other countries and our connection to them. It’s important to study how other governments abroad are run. Explore how those nations differ from the U.S. government. Research the importance of knowing terminology and implications.
Further, you may want to study how foreign governments and the U.S. work together.
After all, global leaders must come together and negotiate in a variety of circumstances. What are those circumstances? How are these communications conducted?
Here are links for more social studies tools (some of these links will take you away from Homeschool.com):