Help! My homeschool curriculum hasn’t arrived yet!

How do I homeschool if my curriculum is late or delayed? PIN IMAGE

“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!

  1. Read a book, then watch the movie version. (Literature, reading, film analysis. Possibly also history, science, geography, etc.)
  2. Use Google Earth — or the Google Earth app — to see what historical locations look like today. (History, geography.)
  3. Go for a hike. (PE, science.)
  4. Build a LEGO brick model of a landmark. (Physical geography, STEM, art.)
  5. Draw a comic strip of a moment in history. (Art, language arts, history.)
  6. Learn a science song. (Science, music, memory work.)
  7. Learn a grammar song. (Language arts, music, memory work.)
  8. Use children’s literature to teach preschool math.(Literature, reading, numeracy, math.)
  9. Organize your notebooks with these free printable notebook labels.(Art, executive functioning skills, life skills.)
  10. Explore nature in urban settings with these 8 ideas. (Science, geography.)
  11. Write — and address, stamp, and mail — a thank you card. (Language arts.)
  12. Read a book (Literature, history, poetry, science, etc.)
  13. Listen to an audiobook on Libby, Overdrive, Audible Stories, etc. (Literature, history, poetry, science, etc)
  14. Listen to a kids’ podcast. (Science, history, etc)
  15. 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.)
  16. Label household items in English (spelling) or the language you’re learning. (Foreign language, language arts.)
  17. Do a jigsaw puzzle. (STEM)
  18. Search for YouTube lessons and start playing an instrument you’ve been meaning to learn. (Music)
  19. Learn to read music. (Music)
  20. Learn to code on Khan Academy or (STEM)
  21. Use dry erase markers to write — or do math — on windows and patio doors (Art, math, language arts.)
  22. Create geometric art on windows with painters’ tape. (Art, math.)
  23. Listen to a famous classical piece. (Fine arts, music appreciation.)
  24. Watch a famous opera online. (Fine arts, music appreciation.)
  25. Play with Snap Circuits. (STEM)
  26. Build with K’Nex, Tinker Toys, or similar. (STEM)
  27. Research a famous figure. (Language arts, history, science, etc)
  28. Write a newspaper outlining historical events — or a timeline of 2020. (History, language arts, art, geography.)
  29. Attend church or Sunday School, online or in-person. (Bible, music, fine arts, etc.)

And my friend Marie added these ideas:

  1. Build a cardboard city from old shipping or packing boxes. (Art, stem.)
  2. Watch Operation Ouch. (Human anatomy, medicine, science.)
  3. Use the free lessons on BBC Bitesize to extend your learning. (English, Math, Science, History, Geography, Design)
  4. 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.

30 Activities Which Totally Count as School PIN


Finally, a Kindergarten American History Curriculum!

Sonlight's New Kindergarten American History Curriculum!Does an accurate American history curriculum for kindergarten actually exist?

A good homeschool history curriculum is difficult to find, isn’t it? And US history is particularly hard to teach.  I have very little tolerance for oversimplified books which whitewash the complexity of our nation’s beginnings, idolize outward morality, virtue, and character, or put Columbus and Washington on a pedestal of American exceptionalism.  But most truly accurate US history books are geared toward a much older audience, and aren’t designed to give a broad sweeping overview to sensitive kindergarteners or first graders. American history is messy, ugly, grim, and often brutal. Teaching true American history to small children — even with picture books — is not easy.

So how do we find accurate US history books which will capture the tender imaginations of precious five- and six-year-olds?

Continue reading “Finally, a Kindergarten American History Curriculum!”


Great Wall of China Project for Kids: Mini Bricks Review

pin image for Great Wall of China Mini Bricks Timberdoodle Review

Want to build a model of the Great Wall of China…

  • as a hands-on history project,
  • as a middle-school architecture unit, or
  • as part of studying Chinese history, culture, and geography in your homeschool?

My daughter has been attending Saturday Chinese school for years, so in conjunction with her ongoing Chinese language learning, I try to integrate cultural studies into our regular homeschool routine whenever I can.

Building a Great Wall of China model fits right into our studies, and is the perfect hands-on history project.

Continue reading “Great Wall of China Project for Kids: Mini Bricks Review”


How to Homeschool for Free During a School Closure

100+ FREE Websites to Help You Learn at Home While Schools Are Closed (or Homeschool for the Rest of the Year!)

#COVID19edu Lesson Plans for School Closures

Is your child’s school closed for two weeks — or more? Do you want to continue your child’s education at home while classes are cancelled?  Maybe you are facing the challenge of online learning, e-learning, or virtual school, thanks to COVID-19, or maybe you’ve decided to homeschool temporarily until the crisis is over. If you’re intimidated by the idea of trying to find things for your kids to do while stuck at home, the lesson plans, free curriculum, and activity ideas in this post will help you have a fun, educational, and memorable time with your kids.

These (clutter-free!) digital homeschool resources are also ideal for worldschoolers, expats, full-time RVers, missionaries living abroad, tiny-house dwellers, or homeschoolers on a very low budget. You’ll need access to the internet, time to assemble all your resources, and consistent access to a computer, laptop, or tablet. But you won’t need a separate schoolroom, rows and rows of shelving, or tons of money! At the time of posting, all the resources here are free.

100+ FREE Websites to Help You Learn at Home While Schools Are Closed (or Homeschool for the Rest of the Year!)

This list of websites is organized by subject, in roughly alphabetical order. I tried to differentiate between longer content like curriculum and lessons and shorter content like enrichment, but this often subjective, since many resources can be used in more than one way. You’ll find apps, videos, songs, audiobooks, ebooks, printable books, interactive websites, games, and printable activities. I’ve tried to link to websites which offer many activities and resources, rather than link to blog posts with a single activity. Because of that, there are far more than one hundred lessons in this list. (ETA: Huge shout out to Marie of Faithfully Wandering for texting me so many of these links and resources!)

If I missed your favorite resource, or a resource you created, please do add it in the comments below.

Continue reading “How to Homeschool for Free During a School Closure”


Review of Apologia Science Journal (Zoology 2)

PIN IMAGE for Review of Apologia's Junior Notebooking JournalLife has been crazy. Here’s how we put elementary science on autopilot.

So, it’s been a little bit whole lot bananas around here trying to homeschool my bookish daughter with a high-needs infant in the mix — one who doesn’t tolerate baby carriers, has reflux, needs to be held in very specific ways, doesn’t nap unless he’s held, has mostly no interest in gripping toys, and is homebound (hello, preemie NICU graduate + flu season).

And at six months now since baby was born, advice like “just take a break” doesn’t fly. (Truthfully, that never works with my intense, academic-minded daughter anyway. Breaks in routine mean a breakdown in behavior.)

So as I planned our year, I knew dropping science wasn’t an option.

Continue reading “Review of Apologia Science Journal (Zoology 2)”


Homeschooling with Graphic Novels (like Robin Hood!)

PIN IMAGE: Homeschooling with Graphic Novels

Do you use graphic novels in your homeschool? Like Robin Hood and his merry band of thieves, graphic novels can be a bit of an edgy subject in conservative home education circles. But they’re amazing! And there are so many good options. (Keep reading to see my list of favorite graphic novels for your homeschool.)

A few years ago when Aveline was five years old, she quietly colored her entire face green with a marker, then hid in the entryway planning an ambush. When my husband came home after work, she jumped out and screeched, “What is your business in Sherwood Forest, papa?!” (Sugar and spice and everything nice, right? This is also how I learned Crayola washable markers are not washable on the skin.) From the day she was first introduced to Robin Hood and his gang, she’s been in awe.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.]

Continue reading “Homeschooling with Graphic Novels (like Robin Hood!)”


Homeschool Robotics: Review of Robotis Dream 2.0 (Levels 1 and 2)

Homeschool Robotics: Robotis Dream 2.0 Review, available at Timberdoodle
Puzzled over how to teach robotics in your homeschool? Want to introduce your kids to more STEM topics, but not sure exactly how to go about it? Although robotics can be an intimidating topic to explore, it doesn’t have to be.

Disclosure of Material Connections: I received complimentary Robotis Dream 2.0 Level 1 and Level 2 kits from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this review. All opinions — and photographs! ;) — are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

Continue reading “Homeschool Robotics: Review of Robotis Dream 2.0 (Levels 1 and 2)”


Why Use Science Audiobooks? (An Apologia Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures MP3 CD Review)

Pin image for Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

Do you struggle with the available options for teaching elementary science? Over and over, I hear from overwhelmed parents who are stuck trying to figure out how to fit science in to an already-full homeschool schedule.

Maybe that’s you.

Maybe science is the one subject which keeps getting pushed down the priority list, and tends to eventually get left out altogether. Maybe you have the idea that science needs to be heavily hands-on, with dramatically impressive experiments all the time. Realistically, you can’t be the mad scientist too, on top of all the other hats you wear. And maybe you even feel a little guilty about that.

Continue reading “Why Use Science Audiobooks? (An Apologia Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures MP3 CD Review)”