Homeschooling: Why I’m Not Worried About What My Kids “Need” to Know

Take advantage of your homeschool freedom and ignore those arbitrary timelines!

As a type-A homeschool mom who has been through burnout and the nightmare of temporarily putting my kids back in school, there are a few things that will literally make me cringe when they come up in homeschool circles.

This is one of them. 

Every so often I’ll see a new homeschooler looking for advice on how to get started, and inevitably, someone will recommend they get one of the What Your (Insert Grade Here) Needs to Know books. I don’t doubt that these people truly have the best of intentions when making this suggestion, but there are a few things about these books (and others like them) I’d really like to address because they can be a gigantic stumbling block for new – and seasoned – homeschoolers.

Don't let these homeschool stumbling blocks set you back!

Before I get started, I’d just like to point out that I have nothing against these books, in general. I think they can be an excellent resource for people who are able to take them with a grain of salt, or for those who one day expect to send their kids back to school.

Unfortunately, however, I’m guessing that a good portion of homeschoolers don’t fit either of these criteria, which is why I felt the need to broach this topic today.

Why I’m Not Worried About What My Kids “Need” to Know

Our society today is obsessed with timelines and milestones. Everywhere you turn, there are checklists, pamphlets, books, and charts telling you what your children “should” be doing by a certain age. It’s enough to make any parent neurotic.

Oh no! My baby is 8-months-old and not crawling yet. What should I do??

This chart says that 3-year-olds should be able to hop on one foot. My 3-year-old can’t do that. Should I call the doctor?!

My 18-month-old can’t draw circles! What could be wrong??

Stop worrying and let your children develop at their own pace.

As if that weren’t bad enough, we’ve got the schools stepping in with their timelines and arbitrary expectations.

Your son is in 1st grade and is still having difficulty reading. He may have to be held back.

Your daughter fidgets an awful lot. Maybe you should have her checked for ADHD.

In 2nd grade, we expect children to have completely legible printing. This just won’t do.

Kids should not be treated as cookie cutter images of one another by the schools.

You would think that homeschooling would offer a welcome reprieve from all of this unnecessary pressure, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Since we’ve been brought up to believe that school is the “only way,” a substantial number of homeschoolers and authors of educational books treat children exactly like schools do – as nothing but cookie cutter images of one another.

The thing is, that’s not what children are! They are unique individuals who grow at their own rate and learn and develop at their own pace. What is “normal” for one child may not be for another, and that is as it should be.

While books like these may be a good resource for getting ideas, all too often what happens is they start being treated like Bibles instead of tools.

Treat your educational resources as tools - not Bibles.

So why am I not worried about what my kids “need” to know?

Because the authors of these books and creators of these charts don’t know my children. I do. They don’t know their strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities. I do. They don’t know their interests and learning styles. That would be me, too.

The fact is, the best people to determine what your children should learn are you and them. That’s it. No fancy books. No milestone charts. And no arbitrary educational guidelines.

Take advantage of your homeschool freedom and let your children grow as they need, develop as they need, and learn as they need. If you ask me, that’s a pretty simple recipe for an uplifting homeschool.

But it works. And that’s what matters the most.


Are you on the lookout for a relaxed homeschooling community to share ideas and advice with? Join my FB group!


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.

22 thoughts on “Homeschooling: Why I’m Not Worried About What My Kids “Need” to Know”

  1. I am always excited to see your  posts! Once again you tell it how it really  is. I am 3 years in and just coming to terms that it doesn’t have to be exactly by the book. -Charity

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You made a good point by saying books should be used as “tools” rather than “bible” and when we treat them as such we offer a lot of flexibility, especially with free spirited and high energy kids like my son who hates structure but learns best with relaxed approach and improvisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was very helpful, thanks! I’m a new homeschool mom (1st grade) and my son would be labeled as ADHD for sure. He’s smart but struggles with some abstract concepts. I think I’m starting to accept that it’s ok if he doesn’t get some things now…they will eventually come! Keep up the great advice for us newbies ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just when I needed to hear this!!

    Struck with fear this week that my children are not knowing what they need to. It’s difficult when those around me are waiting for something to look off in their behavior or for them to be odd in general (it’s apparently only ok to be odd if one goes to building school) or for me to give them some reason to judge my curriculum, so they can jump on saying “I told you so” about homeschooling. Doctors aren’t help helpful when they say my son would be better “adjusted” and not as picky if not homeschooled. I’m continually trying to carry on strong and truthfully, this week has been good with good progress, despite fears & worries. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it can be such a struggle. People make so many assumptions when you take an alternative road and the easy thing is for them to follow assumptions which are usually cultural misconceptions about homeschoolers. It makes me sad that some people fail to only see the “differences” in homeschool children and conclude it because we are somehow doing it wrong. I sure have had times of fears and worries and have got caught up in wondering what others think. I pray you continue to have progress and that some of your fears will be relieved.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Each day, each week, is different. I do feel peace and confidence, but it doesn’t stay as people are constantly giving me their opinion /input. Some weeks are better than others and I always come back stronger. Thank you for your comment & encouragement.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. It can be hard to live a lifestyle that you know others are watching everything you do, but always, always remember that these are your children and you know them better than anyone. Thankfully, our doctors have always been very neutral about homeschooling. (Actually, a specialist my son was seeing said it was the best thing for him.) People fear what they don’t know, and that’s what it comes down to. Never let other people make you second guess your decision. You’re doing the right thing. ❤


  5. I have homeschooled my children for 10 years. I had to put the 3 youngest in school this year to get some financial things taken care of. It has been so hard with the labels and conforming to the milestones.


  6. Such a great reminder! I continually try to shrug off what my boys should know and focus on what we want to learn but I am finding as we get closer and closer to college I find that goal harder and harder to hold onto.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so hard to stay away from the schoolish mindset as our kids get older, but I’ve learned from experience with my teens that life teaches them so much more than a rigid curriculum ever could!


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