3 Reasons Not to Worry About Homeschool Subject Requirements

If you’ve ever visited this blog before, you are well aware of how passionately I try to spread the message that homeschooling does not have to be a replica of school and how important it is to get out of the schoolish mindset. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately and have come to the realization that homeschool laws and even homeschool curricula can make that very difficult. (Watch my video on this topic here.)

Many states have specific subject requirements that must be fulfilled each year, thus homeschool resource publishers follow suit and produce textbook after textbook covering grammar, writing, spelling, reading, math, social studies, science, and so on and so on.

Countless times I have seen stressed out homeschool moms completely burned out from trying to fit all of these different classes into their day, inevitably erasing the possibility of any enjoyment that might have occurred in their homeschool routine.

On top of feeling burned out, these mothers often worry themselves silly over whether or not they are sufficiently covering all of the subjects properly.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

Don’t sweat the subject requirements!

I’m serious. Don’t even give them a second thought. With my younger kids (ages 12 and under),  I don’t even think about what subjects I’m covering when I plan out their homeschool schedules. I’m more interested in doing activities that will mesh well together and produce a more cohesive learning environment.

Do our subjects get covered? You bet they do. Today I’m going to show you how.

3 Reasons to Forget About Subjects and Focus Simply on Learning


#1- It’s very common to cover multiple subject areas at once without even trying.

I started our homeschooling journey trying to imitate school, too. Most people do. But even then I used to wonder:

Why do my kids have to do writing today when they’re writing a report for science?

Is it really necessary to do a grammar worksheet when we just spent 20 minutes proofreading and correcting an essay?

The life of Thomas Edison was covered in the book for her book report. Why then should we move on to an entirely different era for history? That doesn’t even make sense.

It is so important to realize just how often we cover multiple subject areas without even noticing it. Recently, we finished a read-aloud about Roger Bacon. Without even trying, we were able to cover literature, vocabulary, history, and science with that one book. One book.

The same thing can even happen with more traditional textbooks. Just today I was helping my 17 year old learn to write empirical formulas for compounds. After we sat there for 30 minutes figuring these out, I laughed and mentioned to my daughter that we had just covered math for the day, too.

It is nearly impossible to isolate one subject from all others. Take advantage of this and save yourself the time and aggravation!


#2- Living a life filled with literature ensures adequate coverage of most subject areas.

I know there are a lot of people who disagree with children reading “twaddle,” or what they consider to be inferior writing, but I truly believe that there is value to be found in most literature- even Magic Tree House Books, which have horrible sentence structure but are fabulous with science and history-related topics.

I have yet to read one book to my kids or to myself that had no redeeming qualities. I have been amazed at what we’ve learned from books we picked up to read for pleasure and instead ended up with an abundance of new knowledge.

Some books, like the Little House series, seem like they are only geared towards history, yet they have such a wealth of information in all areas that I was inspired to write a unit study based on them.

You’d be surprised how much learning can happen while covered up with a warm blanket, drinking a cup of hot chocolate, and reading a good book together.

Isn’t that better then a dreary textbook and worksheets?


#3- Every required subject can be covered through day to day living.

Unless your children live under a rock or sleep 24 hours a day, there is no way they could get through a day without learning anything. It’s literally impossible.

The reason this may be so hard for some of us to see is that we adults don’t break our lives into subjects. When my mother calls and asks what I’m doing, I don’t say,

I’m doing math and life skills.

I say,

I’m balancing the checkbook.

When my kids ask me why I’m out in the yard, I don’t say,

I’m doing science, life skills, and physical education.

I say,

I’m working in the garden.

Maybe the reason so many parents have such a hard time seeing their children learning in everyday life is that they get so used to labeling everything in school by subject, while life is just, well…life.

It’s a common mistake, but one that can be easily remedied.

Repeat after me:

Just because I haven’t labeled it doesn’t mean it isn’t education.

Easy right? Now believe it, and you’re well on your way to a newfound freedom. A freedom not only from the constraints of a school system but from the constraints of fretting over subjects, as well.

Learning happens all the time, everywhere, in everything.

Take advantage of it and turn your homeschool from a source of stress into a source of strength.







Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

51 thoughts on “3 Reasons Not to Worry About Homeschool Subject Requirements”

  1. As a former public school educator/counselor I can say I wish public school teachers were allowed to use their own common sense as you are. Most go into teaching with plans and creative teaching methods that administrivia doesn’t allow time to implement. That’s a shame. All those educated and gifted creative teachers just waiting to be turned loose so they can actually teach. Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I taught high school physics for 10 years and loved loved loved my students (yes, even the ones that were pains), but the administration and state requirements drove me out. I couldn’t just close my door and teach. Which is what I was really, really good at. I know a lot of teachers feel the same way. You trained us to teach – we want to teach and have kids learn – why won’t you let us? Now I’m in charge of my own 2 students. And I can teach!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I feel fortunate to live in a state where there are extremely relaxed homeschool laws, but I think this is great advice for all homeschooling mamas. It’s easy to get caught in the worry trap when I dare say the reality in most homes is that the children are learning far more than the parents realize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We live in one of the strictre states, although the laws have relaxed a bit the last few years. And you’re right. I think anyone who’s been to school grows up with how things “should be done” in their heads and sometimes need their eyes opened to the fact that that’s not the case!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was just telling someone the other day (I know, big surprise, right?) that she should stop stressing about this very thing and just keep doing what she’s doing, then work backwards every week or so to “make it fit” for the state. It’s what teachers do, too – teachers aren’t usually willing to completely do away with all the fun around the holidays, so we’ll focus on something like pumpkins and then come up with all sorts of ways to justify it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My daughter had a teacher like that, too. They weren’t supposed to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, so she had a “Green Party” and turned the entire day into related activities. I DID take in a leprechaun cake, though. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I just do NOT have the gift to be able to pull things together on my own to make great unit studies. Let me rephrase that, I can do it but it drains me. However, I have come to the realization that knowing that about myself doesn’t mean I can’t use the same kind of approach with my kiddos. I just find curriculum that does the same for me. My kiddos get the experience of just living and loving learning and I get the peace of knowing I am covering what needs to be covered without losing all my hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I hear you. I used to feel so frazzled at the mere thought of pulling together my own unit studies. That’s when I found Konos, and it is WONDERFUL! I would highly recommned that unit study resource to anybody!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am doing grammar, writing, typing, critical thinking, and more while leaving you a comment telling you great post and thanks for linking up at the #LMMLinkup. I am not sure I’ve figured out how to integrate calculus into my comment…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree! It’s very hard for me and my husband to have a relaxed homeschool being as we were both public schooled. However, I do see the learning happening in every day tasks! It is truly amazing what a child can learn just by listening to their questions or involving them in day to day activities (like you mentioned – balancing a checkbook or gardening).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this post! This is our first year homeschooling. I have a blank teacher’s planner where I jot down things we’ve done within each subject at the end of the day. It’s mostly so I can see all the stuff we’re doing. This past week I decided to change the boxes from typical subjects to reading, doing, making, writing, watching, listening, talking, visiting and playing. I found I missed soooo much learning when I was doing it by subject because some things just don’t fit in a subject box (or I haven’t found the terminology to make it fit at this point), but everything fits into the new categories, and it makes it much easier not to worry! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in PA, which until recently was also rather hard to homeschool in. Now we’re pretty lucky in that if we find an evaluator who holds the same philosophy of learning as we do, we have much more freedom in how we learn. Hopefully NY will lighten up for homeschoolers, too!


  8. This is a confirmation of what I have been feeling/thinking this year so far. A lot less stress and arguments! We are enjoying the learning for the sake of learning. I have two high schoolers and we have homeschooled their entire education. My oldest loves physics and now sees a purpose in learning math (needed in physics). This revelation alone has helped our homeschooling! Thank you for this blog! Very encouraging! A breath of fresh air and reassurance!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! I was homeschooled my whole school life and now I’m homeschooling my three kids. I don’t actually know what school looks like, but I feel like I still struggle with letting go of the books. That being said, we are currently on summer break and every, single summer break I see how the kids learn without trying the entire summer through. I hear a lot of my homeschooling friends say that their kids forget stuff over the summer, but I haven’t found that to be true for my family. I think it’s because we embrace taking the time to find the lessons amidst everyday life. Though we use textbooks for regular school, we don’t spend a lot of time doing it and thus leave a lot of free time for pursuing outside interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this concept, although I have to remind myself regularly to make sure I don’t drop back into the “subject to do list”. I do have 1 question though. I noticed you mentioned you younger kids, is there a way to make this work for high schoolers? My 2 oldest are in 10th grade this year & I’m still struggling between making sure they have all the “subjects” & letting them learn because they want to & are interested in something. They are my oldest of 6 so if I can work out a better plan my next 4 will benefit from it. 🙂 Any suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unit studies are a great way even for high schoolers to learn. Another way is to really dig into what they want to learn about. For example, my 12th grader wantes to be a wildlife photographer and loves animals, so the study of animals and his nature studies cover science/biology. Discovering where each animal lives covers geography and often pulls in some history via folk legends. He accomplishes art through photography and drawing the animals on his notebooking pages. As for language arts, again, the notebooking pages cover that. I hope this helps some!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Where we live, homeschoolers are required to be tested every semester (2 a school year) by the school they are officially enrolled in. Every school is different in exactly what thay require and how they test it, but every child has to meet the standards set by the state curriculum, or they are not allowed to continue homeschooling. So in our case, this is unforgunately not completely possible. Be grateful for what you have!

    Liked by 1 person

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