“How do I homeschool if my curriculum is delayed or late?”
Is your homeschool curriculum on back order, stuck at the post office, or just plain taking forever to arrive? Don’t panic. Here’s how you can homeschool while waiting for curriculum to arrive. (Don’t miss 30 Activities Which Totally Count as School, later in this post.)
First, remember you’re not alone.
There are thousands upon thousands of families in your exact same position right now. Timberdoodle’s shipping department reports that on some days, they are nearly filling an entire semi of outgoing orders. That’s hard to even wrap my mind around!
Our entire nation is undergoing a seismic shift, a completely upheaval of educational choices and habits, unlike anything else we’ve seen in our lifetime. Even those of us who have been homeschooling for several years are experiencing the same customer service wait times, shipping delays, back orders, and outages you are. You’re not alone. (At the time of this posting in August 2020, even some public school districts haven’t decided their start dates yet.)
So, you’re not alone. Everyone else isn’t cruising forward without you, leaving you behind. Your books and materials will arrive, curriculum providers are working around the clock to help you, and you will be able to move ahead. Sorting through this phenomenal cultural shift will take time, but we’ll all get there!
Consider delaying your start date
You could consider delaying your first day of school. While some districts begin in early August, many don’t begin until after Labor Day. No one thinks of the September-start schools as behind the August-schools, either. They just run on a different calendar of September-June rather than August-May. You know what else works just fine? October-July!
Consider switching your school calendar to a year-round schedule
Some US districts — and many countries — educate students on a year-round schedule. In these areas, students take time off in the fall and early spring as well as summer, instead of vacationing in the summer only. Still other school systems and homeschools operate on a six-weeks-on, one-week-off schedule. Your time off now doesn’t make you behind. As a homeschooler, you have increased freedom and flexibility. Your chosen educational calendar might even end up being a hybrid amalgamation of several types — and that’s okay, too.
Reframe the way you think about a school year’s length / duration
We homeschool in Tennessee through an excellent umbrella school called HomeLife Academy. Although we are legally required to homeschool for 180 days, we have a full 365 days from the start of the HomeLife Academy school year on August 1 to get in those 180 days. If you’re counting Saturday and Sunday activities as school (and yes, lots of weekend things count…more on that later) you really only need half a year of school. Doesn’t that realization give you a feeling of margin?
So the shipping and backorder delays, while frustrating, aren’t going to set you back quite as far as it feels like they will. In the grand scheme of things, once you reframe the way you think about school years, you have a lot of time.
Realize how streamlined homeschooling actually is
If you’re worried about how you’ll catch up once your curriculum arrives, consider how much more time-efficient and streamlined the average homeschool day actually is, compared to traditional brick-and-mortar education.
In many states, homeschoolers are required to provide 4-6 hours of education each day for a total of 180 days. But when you’re homeschooling, your child is not…
- waiting in a line to enter or exit a classroom,
- switching between different physical classrooms (depending on age),
- listening to an extra explanation or demonstration on a topic he / she already understands,
- waiting in lunch, recess or school dismissal lines,
- working on assignments which are not grade-appropriate,
- attending assemblies,
- waiting for other students to finish up work,
- and the list goes on.
And yet, traditionally-schooled kids get school credit for all those activities. In a public or private school, that entire list above — and more — counts toward the required hours and 180 days of education. The time-wasting stuff counts as traditional school. Another way to look at it: when you cut out all those extra activities, a student educated at home can get so much more done over a four-hour period than a student in a brick-and-mortar setting.
Realizing this kind of takes the pressure off your homeschool, doesn’t it?
Rethink how many activities actually do count as school
So, what can you count as homeschooling while you wait for your homeschool curriculum to arrive? So much more than you might realize.
A caveat: not all of the activities listed below will be appropriate for all ages. A activity ideal for a preschooler’s education is not going to count as part of a high schooler’s credit — but that’s just common sense.
30 Activities Which Totally Count as School
My friend Bethany and I brainstormed about what learning looks like in our homes, and came up with a curiosity-sparking list of educational activities. These aren’t M-F solutions, either — they apply to weekends as well!
- Read a book, then watch the movie version. (Literature, reading, film analysis. Possibly also history, science, geography, etc.)
- Use Google Earth — or the Google Earth app — to see what historical locations look like today. (History, geography.)
- Go for a hike. (PE, science.)
- Build a LEGO brick model of a landmark. (Physical geography, STEM, art.)
- Draw a comic strip of a moment in history. (Art, language arts, history.)
- Learn a science song. (Science, music, memory work.)
- Learn a grammar song. (Language arts, music, memory work.)
- Use children’s literature to teach preschool math.(Literature, reading, numeracy, math.)
- Organize your notebooks with these free printable notebook labels.(Art, executive functioning skills, life skills.)
- Explore nature in urban settings with these 8 ideas. (Science, geography.)
- Write — and address, stamp, and mail — a thank you card. (Language arts.)
- Read a book (Literature, history, poetry, science, etc.)
- Listen to an audiobook on Libby, Overdrive, Audible Stories, etc. (Literature, history, poetry, science, etc)
- Listen to a kids’ podcast. (Science, history, etc)
- Watch a TV show with the audio set to the language you’re learning. See also: how to change your Netflix language. (Foreign language, language arts.)
- Label household items in English (spelling) or the language you’re learning. (Foreign language, language arts.)
- Do a jigsaw puzzle. (STEM)
- Search for YouTube lessons and start playing an instrument you’ve been meaning to learn. (Music)
- Learn to read music. (Music)
- Learn to code on Khan Academy or Code.org. (STEM)
- Use dry erase markers to write — or do math — on windows and patio doors (Art, math, language arts.)
- Create geometric art on windows with painters’ tape. (Art, math.)
- Listen to a famous classical piece. (Fine arts, music appreciation.)
- Watch a famous opera online. (Fine arts, music appreciation.)
- Play with Snap Circuits. (STEM)
- Build with K’Nex, Tinker Toys, or similar. (STEM)
- Research a famous figure. (Language arts, history, science, etc)
- Write a newspaper outlining historical events — or a timeline of 2020. (History, language arts, art, geography.)
- Attend church or Sunday School, online or in-person. (Bible, music, fine arts, etc.)
And my friend Marie added these ideas:
- Build a cardboard city from old shipping or packing boxes. (Art, stem.)
- Watch Operation Ouch. (Human anatomy, medicine, science.)
- Use the free lessons on BBC Bitesize to extend your learning. (English, Math, Science, History, Geography, Design)
- Buy a month of Twinkl for about $5 USD to access thousands of lesson packs, PDFs, Power Point lessons, ebooks, games, and more. (Pro tip: For best results — UK English National Curriculum results — refine your search by “2014 Curriculum”, “All Resource Types” and “English”, not “English-US”).
If you’re willing to think outside the box of brick-and-mortar school, there are so many ways to engage your kids creatively, earn countable educational hours, and make learning an absolute delight.
Want a hundred more ideas for doing school while you’re waiting for your homeschool curriculum to arrive? Here are 100 Ways to Homeschool For Free.
Need more homeschooling help? Join the FREE Oaxacaborn Homeschool Community on Facebook, where lots of friendly faces are happy to answer your questions.