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Choosing the best social studies curriculum is important. Accuracy in places, dates and maps is crucial for accurate learning. Make sure the lesson curriculum you select is written by a qualified expert in the field of social studies. Curriculum designers typically have a Ph.D. or master's degree, so you should also check the course author's educational credentials. Aside from the quality of the materials, you should choose a social studies curriculum that is relevant to the needs and abilities of the students who will learn it.
Homeschooling social studies curriculum should cover a wide range of topics that involve many parts of the world, including both history and current events. In general, students should learn about the world's different countries and cultures. If advanced social studies curriculum is needed, look for enriched information from subjects such as philosophy, sociology and world religions.
Curriculum should be chosen that adequately prepares students for tests. Each unit should have review quizzes. The quizzes should represent material that will be covered on major tests in the course. Text books should have readable, factual passages that clearly communicate information. Social studies textbooks that include projects for further reflection can help improve students' critical thinking skills.
Social studies should widen student viewpoints and open new worlds of discovery. Good social studies curriculum presents facts in a way that students can use reasoning skills to think more about what the factual information means. For example, notes at the end of a chapter about Africa may ask students why certain crops are grown in some parts of the world, but not others. This type of curriculum tends to inspire student questions and discussions and create enrichment of information in the learning materials.
You can balance out good social studies curriculum with a range of books that cover topics in the course. Geography-inspired DVDs the class can watch to actually see different parts of the world make excellent additions. The basic intent of social studies is to help students better understand the world and its social systems. Exploring rather than judging behavior in different parts of the world can lead to greater global understanding.
@Pippinwhite -- You're right about the objectivity part. When I looked for curriculum to homeschool my daughter, I needed a good social studies unit. I looked around for a curriculum for a long time.
I decided when I was looking for a curriculum that I wanted something that was comprehensive, and covered world events and cultures. I had a hard time finding one that was really informative and not just skewed to one worldview or another. I believe in laying out all the facts and allowing my daughter to form her own opinions on the subjects. I finally found one that worked, and as she's gone into high school, she's had no trouble with the social science classes she's taken there.
I'd also decide what I want to focus on for that year. For instance, eighth grade in the United States usually focuses on U.S. civics for the social studies class. If civics is the focus, then I'd look for a curriculum that puts a lot of emphasis on how government works, and how the U.S. government in particular, works.
I would also want a good, objective curriculum that leans neither right nor left, but addresses the good, the bad and the ugly equally. For example, a U.S. history book that discusses the westward expansion and Manifest Destiny would be sorely remiss if it did not also cover the Indian removals and atrocities committed against them in the name of the government. A good social studies text must cover all aspects of events, not just the ones that favor a particular viewpoint.
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