Does That Count As School?

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It isn’t uncommon to hear a homeschool mom who is having a less-than-studious day say something like, “We are learning life skills today!”  We laugh understandingly, but in the back of our minds we wonder,

“Can you do that?”

As a matter of fact, YOU CAN!

Here’s why…

If you are actively and purposefully teaching your children, it is school.  Life skills count as school if they are being actively taught.

What do I mean by “actively taught?”

If you use the life skill to teach formal school subjects, then you can count those hours as school hours. You must be engaging your children in conversation and education and they must be engaging in the act of learning.  You cannot simply DO a life skill and then call it school, but you certainly can teach along with the life skill and call that school.

Here are some examples of life skills and the school subjects they might encompass:

Grocery shopping

  • Math – price comparison, weights, units
  • Nutrition – calories, ingredients, additives, preservatives
  • Science – digestive tract, food production
  • Geography – origin of foods

Doctor’s office

  • Science – anatomy, medicine
  • Math – weights, measurements, volume

House cleaning

  • Home economics
  • Science – properties of common cleaners


  • History – points of interest, historical figures and events of area
  • Math – mileage
  • Geography – map reading, topography

Hunting & Shooting sports

  • Science – animal science
  • History – history of hunting and weapons
  • Math – trajectory, distances, windage and elevation, reloading and ammunition
  • Geography – landscape


  • Math – measurements, angles
  • Science – textiles, gears and machines
  • History

Post Office

  • Math – weights, money
  • History

Dining out

  • Math – money
  • Nutrition – food groups, menus, content
  • Foreign language – based on restaurant
  • Cultural studies –  decor, music, food

The possibilities truly are endless, but remember, you have to be actively and purposefully teaching while engaged in these life skills and activities in order to call it school.

So, fear not homeschool mama, you CAN be creative with your school hours!

What are some ways you have taught school using life skills?

16 Comments on Does That Count As School?

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16 thoughts on “Does That Count As School?

  1. Amy,

    I love it! lol My husband is actually the one who taught me this. We do this often. Its a great way to reinforce their Math, Science and even social studies if we talk about the differences and similarities between how we do things now and how folks did them back when Laura Ingall’s Wilder was a little girl (we are working on a little House unit study).

    Baking is one of our favorite life skill times as we talk about measurement. And grocery shopping as we talk about comparing prices and price per unit.

    Thanks for covering this. Its a great confirmation. And its great to see someone else using some of the skill building in a relaxed homeschooling approach…

    You always inspire me! (I am going to print this out as a reminder of more ways to practice this wonderful way of adding to our lessons as we live our lives.)


    Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  2. I agree!! I know you’re talking about formally counting hours for homeschooling, but I think that more NON-homeschooling parents should take responsibility for teaching their kids real life application of academics, not just letting the school fill their heads with info and then they veg out every night when they get home.

    We don’t homeschool, but I’ve started making a deliberate plan for TEACHING life skills AS applicable academics to our kids at home after school this year. We practice our reading while grocery shopping, baking, and doing laundry. We practice math and measuring by cooking, laundry, and feeding animals. We go over history, geography, biology, and more while doing farm chores. We practice project management, math and home econ, and nutrition while menu planning, couponing, and grocery shopping…it’s endless the learning opportunities in your everyday life!

    • Absolutely! I grew up this way, so I think it is easy for me to do, but it seems once parents relinquish control to the public school, they just hand over everything and don’t think they are “qualified” to do any sort of teaching and that just isn’t true. Children need parents who teach and disciple every step of the way!

      • Mom mom is a teacher and I think she firmly believe that the school should do the teaching as parents are not teachers and therefore not capable :(

        But in the areas of personal finance especially I think the public education system does a piss poor job of it…

        Plus due to behaviour issues and developmental challenges of kis as groupd together(with out enough support for high needs students- be it behaviour, physical of development) they learn some pretty NEGATIVE socialization at school…

  3. Love this! Just last night at our house, we were discussing this! My daughter, who is all things feminine and sweet had asked her dad to get her a squirrel. As he was out hunting for deer, he got one and brought it home. At the supper table, he told her ” Daddy got the squirrel you asked me for”. “REALLY, Dad?? Is it dead?” “Yup.” Then she responds “yes, yes yes!!!” jumping around with her hands in the air. After he had cleaned it up, my two girls investigated the squirrel, remarking on how long its fingers were, and learning all kinds of things about its habitat and behaviors from their dad. My son and his friend were sitting at the table helping cut up the deer all the while learning about it’s habitat as well as muscles and tendons. The three of us adults were sitting at the table, laughing, wondering, does this happen at anyone else’s house? I said to my husband ” I think we’ll call that a homeschool science class!” I doubt any of them, my son’s friend included, will forget what they learned!

    • We do that during hunting season too – LOTS of anatomy studies. Last year while camping, my oldest child killed a squirrel (his first kill) – I accidentally said, “oh no” when I saw her. She was obviously nursing, and it wrecked him to know that her pups were somewhere starving. But, we turned it into an active lesson on seasons for birth & growth, as well as an opportunity to talk about our need to be VERY observant in nature since God set a time for all things. Dad doesn’t shoot just any deer who walks in his path, he tries to get young bucks, or does with no babies (and not the herd doe). All of these things are what our ancestors did in the course of raising their children – our culture has circumvented the skill.

  4. The first time I learned about this was when we lived in Tennessee, where we were required to school four hours a day. I asked a homeschool friend of mine if she was able to easily meet that time frame, she said yes, but her girls were older than my boys. It was then that she shared with me this method. This is especially great during the holidays when you may be busy preparing for company or anytime you find your normal school day is interrupted.

    Great post Amy!

  5. I love getting your blog updates! They actually speak to me on so many levels… especially when I am doubting myself as a homeschool mom of 4 (#5 on the way). SO I just wanted to tell you thank you for sharing!!

  6. I needed to hear that today. We have halfheartedly finished our school for the day, but now what to do with the rest of our day? I think we will bake some cookies and call it math, and clean their rooms and call it home-ec! Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. I just stumbled upon this post through pintrest. I often tell my family and friends that although we do not “unschool” we do count our life skills AS school along with our book work. Our children need to learn the practical aplications of the things they learn, what better way than through real life?! Wonderful post. I will be back.

  8. I think there is a bit of a grey area though-I’ve had times where life gets in the way and we were not able to do “school” but we did work on some lifeskills and it wasn’t planned in advance. I think learning lifeskills can be quite valuable even without adding math or science to it. If my kids were all in school I doubt I’d have taught them as much of the extra stuff as I do because I homeschool. I didn’t learn all that stuff and when I became a wife and mother I had to catch up in a lot of lifeskill areas. So I do feel it’s educational to teach my kids lifeskills as well. Sometimes they do go hand in hand with other subjects, sometimes not. I wanted to add that some of our best discussions have taken place while out walking. I don’t drive so we walk to appointments and the grocery store, bank, etc. As we walk we’ve ended up talking about all sorts of things-from going over our address and phone number with the younger kids to discussions about our values and why we feel that way. Or even just stretching our imaginations like when we pretended dinosaurs were chasing us and we had to hurry home (Oh no! I spot a pterodactyl behind that building!! Wait, I thought I heard a T-Rex roar!) Sometimes that stuff just happens and I realize later that it had educational value. I think it’s ok to count stuff like that sometimes too.

    • I totally agree with you – I was actually uncomfortable with the statements, “If you use the life skill to teach formal school subjects, then you can count those hours as school hours. You must be engaging your children in conversation and education and they must be engaging in the act of learning. You cannot simply DO a life skill and then call it school, but you certainly can teach along with the life skill and call that school.” All the time in public schools students DO life skills without a more academic application – home ec class, sewing class, woodwork (all of which I took in school)…..

      • Christie, but those classes that you took in school are electives. I didn’t take them (I chose only academic classes). My dad taught me to sew when I was 8. I started cooking with my sisters when I was tall enough to reach the stove. Woodworking was also done with my dad (he had no sons, so being the youngest I got all the traditionally “manly” knowledge). Even though I was public schooled, I was also homeschooled quite a bit. =)