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Unschooling Social Studies – How do we do it?

When it comes to unschooling, you want to take a child-led approach. When it comes to “social studies” you are learning about topics related to history, geography, culture, and other aspects like government, civics and economics. I remember back in primary school in Australia, or maybe it was in teacher training (oh so long ago), that the name was changed to “Human Society and Its Environment”. It was quite the mouthful so we called it HuSIE. 

But social/cultural/political study is important for children to learn. When you are following a set curriculum you will be provided with the topics and when to teach them. Ultimately Social studies helps children develop an understanding of the world they live in, its past, present, and future, as well as the connections between individuals, communities, and the larger global society. We want that for them. But we don’t have to follow a set pattern or order to how we learn or what and when.


1. Follow your child’s interests:

Pay attention to what your child is naturally curious about and build on those interests. If they are fascinated by ancient Egypt, for example, provide them with books, documentaries, and materials to explore the topic further.

family at airport

2. Encourage real-world experiences:

Social studies is not limited to textbooks. Encourage your child to engage in real-world experiences that provide practical understanding of social concepts. This could include visiting museums, historical sites, cultural festivals, or inviting guests from different cultural backgrounds to share their stories.

3. Utilize online resources:

There are numerous online resources, educational websites, and videos available that can support unschooling social studies. Websites like National Geographic Kids, History.com, or virtual field trips can provide diverse learning opportunities.

4. Incorporate literature:

Books and literature can be a great way to explore social studies topics. Provide your child with age-appropriate historical fiction, biographies, or cultural stories that pique their interest in various topics.

5. Encourage critical thinking and discussions:

Engage your child in discussions about current events, social justice issues, or historical events. Encourage them to think critically, ask questions, and share their opinions. This helps them develop a deeper understanding of social studies concepts and how they relate to the world.

6. Use hands-on projects:

Engage your child in hands-on projects related to social studies, such as creating a timeline of historical events, building a model of a famous landmark, or role-playing historical figures. These activities help make this subject come alive and deepen understanding.

Group of kids school volunteer

7. Embrace community involvement:

Encourage your child to participate in community activities related to social studies, such as volunteering at a local historical society, attending cultural festivals, or engaging in community service projects. This allows them to connect with their community and gain a broader understanding of social studies.

Remember, unschooling social studies is about fostering a love for learning and allowing your child to explore and discover concepts at their own pace and through their own interests. Be responsive to their needs and be open to adapting your approach as you go along. 

Other posts on unschooling:
Unschooling Language Arts
Unschooling Science
How to Unschool Math

Igniting Imagination: Abstract Thinking in Kids
5 ways to do school without going to school


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