Does This Count As School? How Homeschooling Blurs the Lines

two girls with jump with hands raised

I didn’t realize until I was an adult that learning never ends. Now I see that I am constantly devouring new information whether it’s from a documentary, a podcast, a book, or (most often) my children. They ask questions I've never considered, and we find the answers together. Or sometimes they learn a new fact from a book, TV show, or friend and share it with me.

Growing up in public schools, learning was an 8-3 job. Despite being a voracious reader and a curious child, I didn’t consider my hobbies to be educational. Fun and entertainment were found only outside the school day. I failed to adopt the mentality that everything in life is learning and that learning is fun

As homeschoolers, my children do not have preset boundaries between school and everything else. This lack of distinction can be amazing but can also be confusing. They know that we have to accomplish some school (i.e. curriculum) every day, maybe working through math problems or reading a history book.

But beyond the lessons from the Instructor's Guides and workbooks, they are often confused at what exactly counts as school. We’ve watched Magic School Bus videos and counted it as school. Of course, they enjoy watching Magic School Bus and we’re quite thrilled it counted as school work. And that’s what sparked their questions of, “Does this count as school?”

brings the refrain, "Does this count as school?”

When they can have fun with an activity and have it count as school work, they get an extra sense of glee! Learning isn’t viewed as boring yet necessary. Instead, learning is a natural and never ending part of a vibrant, purposeful life. As homeschoolers, we’re trying to drive the point home that learning can be exciting, and for my kids the notion is working!

Does This Count As School? How Homeschooling Blurs the Lines

Except for one child—my oldest. For some reason, the idea that learning can be fun inhibits him. So I have made it a goal to choose ways he can learn while having the most amount of fun. Here are our top picks:

  • Playing board games
  • Watching good documentaries
  • Field trips
  • Hiking/nature walks
  • Races 
  • Video games 
  • Investing time into interests
  • Using Siri or Cortana to answer questions
  • Cooking and baking 

Although my oldest has trouble with the idea of learning being fun, we push forward. It may hinder him now, but with effort, I expect he will eventually come to blur the line between fun and school without being able to find the dividing line.

Most everything we do counts as school because learning is everywhere.

  • Playing with trains or building blocks involves lessons about gravity, structure, and architecture.
  • Running around a playground teaches how physics works.
  • Video games can teach hand eye coordination, promote cooperation, and enhance creativity.

So I find myself answering my children, “Yes, this counts as school. You’re learning! Isn’t it fun?” because the more often my son has fun while he’s learning, the sooner he will realize that learning is fun. Sometimes I even bend the rules to enforce the idea that learning is fun. “Yes, I’m quite certain that collecting rocks to throw at a target is school work." There's no reason to protect the distinction between recreation and learning, between fun and school. It all counts! Life is learning!

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Erin BrownAbout the Author

Erin blogs at where she inspires people to make learning fun!  Through printables, games, activities, and unit studies, learning becomes an adventure worth having.