K-12 Social Studies Sequence

Many homeschoolers associate classical education with two things: Dorothy Sayers’ idea of the Trivium as stages of child development and the four-year world history cycle that Susan Wise Bauer describes in The Well-Trained Mind. I’ve argued that neither of those things has much at all to do with what the term classical education meant before the 1980s (and still does in Europe), but that fact, in and of itself, doesn’t mean they’re not perfectly legitimate ways to approach homeschooling generally and the study of history specifically.

However, they’re not the only way. Traditional classical educators continue to teach the Trivium as subjects, not stages. Likewise, there are other ways to teach the subjects that fall under the umbrella of Social Studies: history, geography, and civics. The Charlotte Mason approach covers ancient, world, and national history in parallel streams, and uses Plutarch’s Lives as a core text in civics. Core Knowledge splits each year between world history and American history, combining geography with both.

My preferred approach makes more room for the study of geography and civics than is generally provided in any of these frameworks. It also makes space for state history, which is required in some places. Here’s what it looks like.

Grade Social Studies Topic
K [Geography]
1 [Geography] [World History]
2 [Geography] [World History]
3 World History
4 World History
5 World History
6 American History w/Civics Unit
7 American History w/State History Unit
8 Geography
9 World History I
10 World History II
11 American History
12 Civics/Economics w/Current Events study


You can download a PDF copy of this K-12 Social Studies Sequence for personal use.

Copyright 2021 by Drew Campbell, PhD. All rights reserved.

Drew Campbell is the author of  Living Memory, I Speak Latin, and Exploring the World through Story, and co-author, with Courtney Ostaff and Jennifer Naughton, of How to Homeschool the Kids You Have. Dr. Campbell is a veteran homeschooler and has worked as a classroom teacher, private school administrator, and independent tutor.