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


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”


GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM and Physics

GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM Marble Run

Teaching Elementary STEM (Engineering!) and Physics at Home

We’ve had a lot of indoor time lately — and I’m not even talking about sheltering-in-place due to COVID-19! Since baby Lochlan’s premature entrance into the world seven months ago, our usual social outings have been stripped back a great deal. (Master Lochlan would rock a shirt with the phrase, “I was social distancing before social distancing was cool.”) Our family has always loved games and building sets, but this rainy housebound winter, we’re enjoying them even more than usual.

[Disclosure of Material Connections: I received a complimentary GraviTrax set 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 “GraviTrax Review: Homeschool STEM and Physics”


Thinking Beyond Grade Levels (& a Timberdoodle Announcement!)

Thinking Beyond Grade Levels When Planning Your Homeschool Year

If you’re brand-new to this blog, coming over from Meet the Timberdoodle Blog TeamWELCOME! I’m so thrilled you’re here.

I’m Gina Munsey, a second-generation homeschooler and a third-culture kid, child to homeschool pioneers and missionaries. I was born in Southern Mexico (Oaxaca wuh-HA-kuh specifically, thus the name of this blog), and then spent my formative childhood years behind the Iron Curtain in the former Yugoslavia. (Fun fact: I was in Germany the day the Berlin Wall fell, and came to America just after the tanks rolled in to Yugoslavia, but before Sarajevo fell.)

After stints in the Midwest, Florida, and the West Coast/Best Coast AKA California, I now find myself in the idyllic historic town of Franklin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. I homeschool my neurologically gifted 8-year-old, and our school days usually involve an abundance of books, lots of math, and yes, Mandarin Chinese, too. I’m expecting my second (miracle!) child this fall, so our school days are about to get a whole lot more…interesting.

And a whole lot more heavily caffeinated.

I’m in the thick of planning for it all now.

Are you like me? Do you love planning for a new school year? I definitely do. I obsess over delight in all the new catalogs, text about curriculum endlessly with friends, click through book preview thumbnails until my eyes cross and water, shuffle through my note-ridden index cards, and track down all the used book sales in the area, tempted to buy enough schoolbooks to teach at least half a dozen more students than I actually have.

Homeschoolers love to talk about curriculum, don’t they?

Whether it’s in person or online in my FREE homeschool community for outliers, people always have questions about curriculum.

But curriculum really can pose quite a conundrum for our differently-wired kids. If there’s anything I’ve learned through the years of being a child to homeschool pioneers — and now a second-generation homeschool parent to a neurologically gifted, asynchronous child — it’s that homeschooling allows us the immense privilege of creating a completely personalized custom education for each child.

Continue reading “Thinking Beyond Grade Levels (& a Timberdoodle Announcement!)”


Using an American History Timeline to Teach History Analytically

Teaching History Analytically with an American History TimelineI’m on a perpetual quest to find accurate US history curriculums for kids — but you already knew this about me, right? Compared to objective subjects like math and science, I find history to be particularly challenging to teach properly. While it’s easy for me to seek out the right curriculum — or YouTube video — to help me explain a mathematical concept, it’s much more difficult to offer an accurate commentary on historical events and indeed, people’s own lives.

History is a complex tapestry. There are threads of war, famine, discovery, and conquest, all woven together with the threads of individual people. But people’s lives are complicated. Too many history curriculums offer snap judgments  — telling students exactly what to think — but there’s always more to understand. Biographies are an important key in unraveling historical mystery, because they reveal context, cultural backdrop, and personal motivations. Yet no matter how many rich, enlightening biographies we read, history remains a sequential course of study. Years are chronological. To tie all these separate events and people together and deepen our understanding of what really happened — and how all these different parts are connected — we need to lay out these puzzle pieces in a logical, sequential, pattern.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received free digital and print copies of The Giant American History Timeline from Sunflower Education, and was compensated for my time in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Continue reading “Using an American History Timeline to Teach History Analytically”


Nurturing Child-Led Passions in Gifted Kids with Supplemental Science and Technology Homeschool Curriculum

Nurturing Child-Led Passions in Gifted Kids with Supplemental Science and Technology Homeschool CurriculumOne of the questions I am asked most often in connection with nurturing gifted learning is as follows: “How do you structure your days? How do you balance child-led learning and formal instruction?”

First of all, it’s not an either-or dichotomy. You don’t have to choose between one and the other. Structured academics and child-directed exploration are not mutually exclusive. Free play and formal lessons can co-exist in harmony within the same homeschool — and yes, even within the same day.

How to Structure Your Homeschool Day to Balance Child-Led Learning with Formal Lessons

I’m a second-generation homeschooler.  My brothers and I were all (excellently) educated at home from preschool right on through high school. Our days as kids were set up in much the same way I set up my own homeschool days today, in two distinct yet complementary tiers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was compensated for my time in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a Homeschool Buyers Co-op link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. 

Continue reading “Nurturing Child-Led Passions in Gifted Kids with Supplemental Science and Technology Homeschool Curriculum”