What Are the "Non-Core" Subjects?

What subjects are “non-core”? Well, among them are…

“Oh, the world is so full of a number of things…”

Robert Louis Stevenson said it first, but it’s as true of home education as of nature: there are more subjects, curricula options, projects, workbooks, great books, fun books, maps, Internet sites, and research opportunities out there than you will ever cover.

Once you’ve gotten into a pattern of completing your core subjects, you can start to add in fun electives. Just remember that you won’t ever add them all–and be sure not to overcrowd your schedule. (Children need time to be idle.)

“Non-core” doesn’t mean “unimportant.” It just means “secondary” to the vital core areas. So get those core areas running smoothly first, and then start contemplating the non-core subjects.

What subjects are “non-core”? Well, among them are…


Physical education


Foreign language


Study skills

Fine arts


Visual arts


Practical arts



Sewing & other fabric/yarn arts





All of these are worthwhile subjects that can round out your child’s school year. Just remember that they come after the core subjects–and that you must pick and choose among them (rather than trying to complete a representative smattering of all).




Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer is an educator, writer, and historian. She is the co-author of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (now in its fourth edition), and the author of (among others) The Well- Educated Mind, The Story of Western Science, the Story of the World series, the History of the World series, the elementary series Writing With Ease, and the pre-rhetoric series Writing With Skill. Susan was home educated through high school and has taught all four of her children at home. She has a B.A. and M.A. in English language and literature, an M.Div., and a Ph.D. in the history of American religion from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, where she taught writing and literature for over fifteen years.


3 thoughts on “What Are the "Non-Core" Subjects?

    1. With middle-school students, there’s no one rule/standard, because their transcripts and credits don’t really start “counting” or “mattering” as much until they start 9th grade (high school). Your local school board or your state’s Education Department may have guidelines.

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