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Seven Reasons to Study History

Seven Reasons to Study History
When I was in school, we learned about the world in seemingly unrelated snippets. My teachers called the subject Social Studies . We might start the year studying Chinese culture. Then we'd study the Pilgrims because it was getting close to Thanksgiv...
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Fast and Easy History Curriculum

Fast and Easy History Curriculum
Some people love history, and others… not so much. Faced with a history-phobic kid, social studies-hating kid, you don't have to skip the subject. If you are looking a fast and easy way to get history, sometimes you just need to think outside the box...
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Jessica Zbavitel
Thanks so much for The Great Courses supplement ideas!
Friday, 29 June 2018 00:16
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Freshman Social Studies

Freshman Social Studies

Freshman Social Studies


What do you cover for social studies?

Ninth grade usually starts with American History. This is because most kids already know about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, so starting in the U.S. builds on what they know.

Tenth grade usually means World History, because by then children know about the Revolutionary War, World War 1, and World War 2, so this history builds on what they know.

Usually American Government and Economics courses come next. These are often half-year classes, and are often taught in 12th grade, when kids are almost 18 years old and ready to vote and pay taxes.

But usual isn't always a good fit for everyone. Which is why homeschooling is awesome!

Many social studies programs love to follow the four year cycle of history. They start from the beginning of history and cover world history in order, from beginning to end. This makes sense, right? Covering history in the order it occurred makes total sense.

The problem is that most ancient history books are harder to read than modern history books about American history. Many of the classical education curriculum available use books that my son read in the honors program at university! For this reason, I worry that 9th graders are facing books too challenging for them to enjoy.

Challenging and not overwhelming is the goal. If the curriculum is too challenging, it puts you at risk of burnout, and can lead to your kid hating school.

In general, it's best to strike while the iron is hot, and cover the history kids are interested in, if they express an interest. If your child has a hankerin' for world history, it's the best history to cover.

What are you teaching for freshman social studies? Please share!



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What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?

What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?

What is the Difference Between History and Social Studies?


"Social studies" and "history" may be interchangeable terms for some colleges. You may have noticed that some college websites require four years of social studies while others require history. What is the difference between history and social studies?

When colleges request four years of social studies or four years of history, they both probably mean the same thing. Social studies (also called social sciences), is actually a broader term having to do with human social interaction. It can include history, government, economics, psychology, sociology, and probably some other "ologies" that I can't think of right now.

Geography can consist of either political geography (a social science) or physical geography (which could also be a science - not to confuse you or anything).

Many colleges specify what KIND of social studies they want to see. Often they require American history, American government, economics, and world history. You don't have to stick with just these four though. You can branch out and have your child study even MORE social sciences if you want to. We did in our homeschool because my kids loved social studies!

What social studies are you covering in your homeschool? Please share in the comments!





Please note: This post was first published in June 2009 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Family Crisis!

Family Crisis!
Family crisis.  What is a homeschool parent to do?



Everyone has them at some time or other.  Even those perfect homeschool families, who show up at conventions in matching outfits, with perfectly-behaved children.  Yes, even they have them sometimes! Some kind of family crisis will pop up, and get in the way of homeschooling. Of course, whether you’re homeschooling or not, a crisis can happen.  Just because you are homeschooling, that doesn't make a crisis worse.  A crisis is a crisis. It’s a trauma to the family when things go wrong, regardless of the schooling choice you’ve made.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your family weather the storm, and stay on track with your homeschooling.

Cover the core when possible. 
If you are having a family crisis, try to cover at least the core subjects whenever possible. I admit, sometimes it’s not realistic.  When possible, covering Math, English, Social Studies and Science will still give you a reasonable-looking transcript at the end of the year.  Try and pay special attention to finishing Math every year, even if everything else goes by the wayside, so that your child won’t get behind. It’s easy to quickly finish other classes if you need to, doing the minimum requirements, but there’s no way to speed up Math!

Prepare ahead during freshman year. 
You can be prepared for the unexpected. You never know if your family might have a crisis at some point in your homeschooling.  Make sure that you cover all the important subjects starting at the beginning of high school, in your student’s freshman year.  Don’t wait until senior year to cover fine arts! Cover them all when you can, from the beginning of high school.  That way, if something does come up, your student will be more likely to have completed their coursework by senior year.

Of course, family emergencies are not the only reason why it’s important to be prepared and to work ahead. Sometimes seniors in high school will put their feet into the sand and not budge when you try to convince them they need to take a foreign language, or a second year of fine arts. By planning ahead, you might not have to struggle with your teen quite as much.   Be prepared, and any crisis will be much easier to weather.



Learn how to homeschool with complete confidence using my DVD, Preparing to Homeschool High School.
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What is Your High School Graduation Rate?

What is Your High School Graduation Rate?
Great news!  In The Great State of Washington, 24 kids out of 100 don't graduate high school!  Oh, wait... that's not good news!  When you really think of it, a 24% drop out rate is amazingly high!


What is YOUR graduation rate?  What is the rate for your local high school?  What is the rate for your own homeschool?

I know a LOT of homeschoolers, representing a huge variety of kids and educational styles, and I haven’t seen ONE that wasn’t prepared for either college or the work force. That’s because homeschooling allows you to move at your child’s individual pace in every single subject, and to teach anything you think is important for them to know before they graduate.  There’s no unwieldy bureaucracy that determines when you move on to the next grade, and you have the flexibility to change your plans whenever you need to.

The Seattle Times reported that Washington State averaged 76 percent graduation rate (based on 2010-11 data).  Previous statistics have been inaccurate, due to the variety of methods used to determine the numbers, but this study used the same method across all states to calculate how many freshmen graduated four years after they entered high school. The state with the highest on-time graduation rate was Iowa, with 88 percent.  The lowest was Nevada, with 62 percent. All of those rates are the same in one respect.  They are too high!

Flexibility gives homeschoolers the advantage: we know that colleges like to see 3-4 years of English, math, social studies and science on the transcript, so with that in mind we can plan our children’s high school courses to equip them with everything they need to succeed in college, while working at their individual level.

You ARE capable of giving your child a superior education, and they will graduate and be prepared for whatever they want to do next.



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Social Studies for Dummies

Social Studies for Dummies
"Social Sciences"?  What does that even mean? What is the difference between history and social studies?


Social sciences, or social studies, are actually a broader term having to do with human social interaction.  So it can include history, government, economics, psychology, and sociology.

Some colleges might use the terms "Social Studies" and "History" interchangeably in their application requirements.  When they say they want to see four years (usually) of "social studies" or four years of "history" on a transcript, it probably means the same thing.  In some states, a state history class may be required.

Many colleges will specify what KIND of social studies they want.  Often they will want American History, American Government, Economics, and World History.

You don't have to stick with just those four, however; you can branch out. Optional courses might include any of the social sciences, and there are a lot of them. Some of the social sciences include psychology, sociology, anthropology, and comparative governments. You could teach the history of anything or any country.

When I was in public high school I took a class called Polynesian history. Again, your options are limited only by the passion of your children, but in public high school it’s the passion of the teacher that sets the courses. My teacher in high school was passionate about going to Hawaii every year, and he could help finance that trip to Hawaii by teaching a class called Polynesian history because the two are tied together. I have a brother in-law who taught at a public high school, and he actually taught a class called the History of Baseball. There is a whole world of other social sciences you can explore!

Find out more about social studies on The Homescholar website!


Homeschooling is NOT the same as doing schoolwork at home.  There is so much freedom in homeschooling!  My Gold Care Club will give you all the help you need to succeed!
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Homeschooling - Break Free of the Public School Mold

Homeschooling - Break Free of the Public School Mold
You don't need to behave like a brick and mortar school when you are homeschooling science and social studies.
Any articles/advice about teaching Science/Social....making sure they're covering what they need, without falling back into the whole teacher/student mode?



If your child is planning to go into a hard science like biology, engineering, or medicine, then they will REALLY benefit from learning biology, chemistry and physics in high school.  If they don't seem interested in science, then sometimes it can help to give them biology and chemistry and physics just so you can make SURE they aren't interested in science!  But when colleges talk about what they want to see in students, they usually don't get too specific.  Most often they will say they want three years of science, and at least one of those years is a lab science.  They often don't get specific about which science they want, so you can branch out.  They don't get specific about what a "lab science" is, so you have some freedom there as well.  For that reason, you may be able to encourage the love of learning if you provide a science that your child finds interesting.  If they WANT to learn about astronomy, and they will be bored to tears with chemistry right now, then you have the freedom to follow their interests while still providing a college prep education.

For social studies, colleges are usually more specific.  They like to see US History, World History, American Government, and Economics.  Still, you can do a lot of different things within those subjects, and you can also branch out to include more than these areas.  I have a list of other social studies options in this blog post, and maybe that will help you draw outside the box.

Whether it's science or social studies, you can break out of the school mold by considering alternate methods of evaluating your students, rather than relying on tests.  Here is an article I wrote about how to give grades without grading.  Try to wrap your mind around the word "evaluating" instead of "testing" and that may help.



Check out my new profile on The Old Schoolhouse’s Speakers Bureau, and then ask you conference coordinator to invite me to come speak to your conference in 2010!
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