Education Bug - a complete listing of educational resources

Follow EducationBug on Twitter

Homeschool Social Studies

This article provides information to help you start planning a homeschool social studies curriculum. Read on for tips on planning your homeschool social studies curriculum and using the national social studies standards to assist you.

First Steps for Planning Your Homeschool Social Studies Curriculum

States vary in how strict their curriculum requirements are. Check with your state’s Department of Education for any guidance or mandates they may have as you begin to plan your homeschool curriculum. You can find the web address of your state’s department of education here:  Check out the article “Getting Started with Homeschool Curriculum” for more information.

After you establish the areas you’re teaching, using the homeschool guidelines of your state, you’ll probably find it helpful to find the content standards and curriculum frameworks for those subjects. Besides looking for these on your state’s site, you can find links to your state’s Social Studies standards here:

And - after you locate your own state’s Social Studies standards, you might find it beneficial to investigate other offerings from your own state as well as other states. State web sites often offer free lists of weblinks, bibliographies, curricula, and other resources. As long the material is good for instruction of your child and as long as you adapt material to meet your state’s parameters, it doesn’t matter where it’s from. You may also find that your state has a social studies specialist who can assist in instructional planning, in addition to the state’s homeschool specialist. Either check your state’s website, or give the state Department of Education a phone call.

Using the National Standards for Planning Homeschool Social Studies Curriculum

In its Introduction to Curriculum Standards, available at the National Council for the Social Studies defines social studies and enumerates characteristics of a good social studies program. It identifies a list of ten persistent issues and dilemmas in the social studies, and identifies principles of teaching and learning that are necessary for excellence.

The National Standards for Social Studies are found at the National Council for the Social Studies web site: This is an updated draft from May 1, 2008. Check back to the site for further revisions, as time goes on. This article is not long enough to review all of the state standards, but a summary of the national standards will help you get started.

The element of the curriculum that the NCSS has chosen to post here (you can buy the bulletin with the standards book buy downloading the catalog and ordering it here: is the ten themes of the social studies curriculum. These themes are:

  • Culture
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environment
  • Individual Development and Identity
  • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Production, Distribution, and Consumption
  • Science, Technology, and Society
  • Global Connections
  • Civic Ideals and Practices

Notice how each of the sections is laid out:

  • The first paragraph (and, in one case, the second) tells the importance of the thematic area in broad terms.
  • The second paragraph (and in one case the third) cites important questions in the thematic area.
  • The next paragraph tells what students will be able to do as a result of their experiences with this thematic material.
  • And finally, there is a discussion of the contexts in which students are likely to meet this theme.

An additional area of the NCSS site that’s worth checking is Classroom Resources, found here:  There you can find information about teaching with documents, lessons, special materials for the 2008 elections, and a list of tradebooks for young people in the area of social studies.


US Department of Education - Social Studies -

National Council for the Social Studies - and and social