“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” (George Washington)
As home educators, we have a lot of freedom in the curriculum choices we make. We also carry the full responsibility for the education of our children. Understanding government is a vital part of that education, as you may be painfully aware if you try to keep up with current events. Today I’m sharing what I consider to be a well-rounded government and civics course suitable for high school.
This is not a blog post about how to earn a high school credit. This is about equipping future adults to understand their government fully. By the time your students finish studying the resources I share here, they will have earned far more than a single high school credit, and they will be knowledgeable as adults, citizens, taxpayers, and voters.
Download a free complete PDF of this course at the end of this post.
About these resources
I’m an eclectic homeschooler, so I mix and match lots of great resources. Over my 20 years of homeschooling, I’ve added to my list of favorites with each new student in my home. My youngest child will have the benefit of all the great things I’ve discovered in the years I’ve homeschooled her older siblings!
This course can be an intensive spread over one school year, or could be spread out as a continuous study throughout high school. There are several book recommendations that are quite suitable for high schoolers.
I highly recommend studying this alongside your American History study if at all possible. The events of the American Revolution (and leading up to it) really illustrate the reason for the type of government we have in America. Knowing the story of our founders truly deepens our understanding of American government and gives us a an appreciation for preserving it.
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American Government in Christian Perspective – A Beka Book
I love this text as the foundation for a government study. It’s thorough and recognizes our Christian heritage. The rest of my recommended resources below will flow with the chapters in this book.
|American Government in Christian Perspective, Third Edition
Pave the way for your students to discover the blessings and symbols we hold dear as Americans! Focusing on the U.S. Constitution, the government it established, and the rights and privileges it guarantees, this semester-long curriculum also explores federalism, state and local governments, and the opportunities and responsibilities of citizens. Grades 11 or 12. Approx. 290 pages, softcover.
A copy of the Constitution
Y’all, every American needs to own their own copy of the United States Constitution and be very familiar with it. Every home should have a copy in their library. The one I link below also includes the Declaration of Independence.
|Documents of Freedom
This pocket-size book includes the full text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and President George Washington’s “Farewell Address.” Makes a great gift!
Why We Need the Electoral College by Tara Ross
The Electoral college can be confusing, but Tara Ross has done a great job of explaining it in her book.
But, if your high schooler gets overwhelmed with too many books to read, this younger version is a great substitute by the same author: We Elect a President: The Story of Our Electoral College.
Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin
This is a quick and easy read that lays out the difference between the Conservative and the Statist, or the difference between liberty and tyranny. It has short, easy to understand chapters. Excellent follow-up to the A Beka course.
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
I assign the first chapter of this book to my students at home and in my local homeschool co-op. It’s a great foundation for the entire study.
Arguably the 20th century’s most influential Christian writer, C.S. Lewis sought to explain and defend the beliefs that nearly all Christians at all times hold in common. His simple yet deeply profound classic, originally delivered as a series of radio broadcasts, is a book to be thoroughly digested by believers and generously shared with skeptics. Paperback with French f laps and deckled page edges.
The Original Argument: The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century by Glenn Beck
The Federalist Papers are a collection of letters written by three of our Constitution’s framers, defending the need for a Constitution before it was ratified. They are an invaluable resource for an in-depth study of the Constitution, but let’s face it, they’re kind of hard to read. This book by Glenn Beck is a great “cliff notes” version and perfect for high school. It doesn’t cover every Federalist letter, but many of them, and explains their meaning and their application. Highly recommended.
Original Intent by David Barton
This book looks closely at the role of the Supreme Court and its Christian heritage. You wouldn’t know it today, but our judicial system was once a preserver of our Constitutional rights and limited government. Great read by one of America’s leading historians.
|Separation of Church and State
This books provides a simple and much-needed analysis of one of the most often and widely misunderstood phrases in American history. Discover the Founding Fathers’ views on the positive influence of religious values on public policy as well as the background behind Thomas Jefferson’s famous 1802 letter employing the “separation of church and state” phrase. This book is the accompaniment to the DVD/Video/CD/Cassette “The Foundations of American Government Stock #279980. 32 pages. Booklet.
Separation of Church and State: What the Founders Meant by David Barton
The phrase “separation of church and state” is often attributed to the Constitution when in fact, it’s not even there. It came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, more than a decade after the Constitution was ratified. It’s very important to understand the misuse of this term. This little booklet is just 32 pages and an excellent explanation of the misunderstanding and misuse of the term.
|Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution & Religion
An essential resource for anyone interested in our nation’s religious heritage and the Founders’ intended role for the American judicial system. Original Intent combines hundreds of quotes from primary sources with the author’s exposition on hot topics such as revisionism, judicial activism, and separation of church and state. A substantial appendix encompasses full texts of the founding documents, biographical sketches of numerous Founders, and extensive reference notes.
Able and Mighty Men: Biographies of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence
This is one of the books in my series of reprinted history books. It is so educational and inspiring to understand how 56 men could have the courage to commit treason against the British King. This book includes the biographies of George Washington and Patrick Henry, as well as the first and final drafts of the Declaration of Independence as well as the Constitution.
Prager U 5-minute videos
I love these videos because they are short (great for keeping a student’s attention) and to the point. There are tons of videos of different subjects, but I’ll list the pertinent ones here:
- Do You Understand the Electoral College?
- The Popular Vote vs. the Electoral College
- What Does Separation of Church and State Mean?
- The Government Isn’t Supposed to Fix Your Life
- Captialism Vs. Socialism
- Was Jesus a Socialist?
- Why the 3/5 Compromise was Anti-Slavery
- What Made George Washington Great?
- What’s Killing the American Dream?
Crash Course Government Videos
I have used a few of the Crash Course videos to explain different chapters in the government text. I recommend them with this disclaimer: sometimes they contain a crude word or two in an attempt to be “cool.” It hasn’t presented a real problem for us, but I want to advise if you utilize these, you might want to preview them in advance.
But you know, lots of kids prefer video, and if that’s your student, these are a great addition to the government textbook. I like to introduce the video before they read the textbook as a way of giving a simplified explanation of what they are about to read.
American History Resources
If your student is not currently in an American history course, or you’d like a supplement to study along with this course, I recommend The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel. This book aligns perfectly with this course.
|The Light and the Glory, revised and expanded edition: 1492 – 1793
By Peter Marshall & David Manuel
Did Columbus believe that God called him west to undiscovered lands? Does American democracy owe its inception to the handful of Pilgrims that settled at Plymouth? If, indeed, there was a specific, divine call upon this nation, is it still valid today?
The Light and the Glory answers these questions and many more for history buffs. As readers look at their nation’s history from God’s point of view, they will begin to have an idea of how much we owe to a very few–and how much is still at stake. Now revised and expanded for the first time in more than thirty years, The Light and the Glory is poised to show new readers just how special their country is.
Download the PDF Lesson Plan
If you want to use this course and put the resources together, print this PDF lesson plan to make it easy!
I also utilize two of my other free lesson plans in this course:
When your kids complete this course, they will be far more educated than most of their peers on this topic. And parents, I highly recommend that you join your kids in this study. You will likely learn new and interesting things that you never learned in your own education, or that you forgot long ago.