Are you homeschooling your children or are you curious about it? Myrza Cozzi, local mom of three, created West Suburban Homeschoolers Meetup to find other local homeschooling families and connect within the neighborhood. The group is not a co-op, but rather a social outlet where members pick and choose which events they would like to host or attend.
The goal of West Suburban Homeschoolers is to provide fun educational activities that supplement what children are already learning at home. Throughout the year they meet for educational tours, museum visits, field trips, plays, and more! Joining WSH is free and is a wonderful resource. They are a group that welcomes all philosophies on homeschooling.
Some readers and I had questions about homeschooling and Myrza was kind enough to answer them! So below is a little question and answer with the creator of the West Suburban Homeschoolers Meetup. At the end you will find a list of homeschooling resources, organizations, co-ops, and classes.
Q&A with Myrza Cozzi
How do you choose a curriculum to accommodate the different ages of your kids?
Most curriculum companies group their material by age or level. They also offer placement tests for math and reading. In that regard, it’s not far off from how a traditional school would choose age-based curriculum. There are several different methods of homeschooling for your children. With that in mind, there are so many curriculum choices. Homeschooling families choose based on their child’s needs and best fit for the family. Homeschool conferences are available so that families can go and listen to speakers, check out materials, and meet like minded individuals. Home educated children tend to move faster through material because it’s one-on-one learning versus 30 to one.
How do you structure your day? Vacation days? Do you take “snow days”?
Homeschooling families base the structure on what works best for the family.
We start our day at 8:30 by doing chores and having breakfast before sitting down to start school. We begin around 9:30 and aim to finish by 1-1:30. After school my kids do some independent reading before calling it a day. We school 5 days a week.
Vacation days are taken whenever we feel like it. Now we just have to work it around my husbands work schedule.
We school right through snow days because we don’t have to get into a car to go anywhere. :)
How do you decide what day to start school for the year? Do you school year round? Do you have a summer vacation?
Again, many families do this differently. Some follow the public school schedule with summers off and Holiday breaks. Others, (like us) school year round. This summer we took a couple weeks off in July for camp and a few field trips.
Do/will you homeschool through high school? Do you plan on your kids transitioning at some point to public school? Will there be some sort of testing required in order for the transition to occur?
There are families that school through high school, and others that stop and send their children to a traditional high school.
My plan is to school them through high school, and they will take a few supplemental courses at the local community college.
I’m sure that if they were to enter a public school tomorrow, they would need to be assessed to see in which grade level they would place. I’m confident they would do just fine on a placement test should they ever choose to transition into a public school setting.
Are there opportunities for homeschooled children to participate in sports?
There are many opportunities for sports. We actually have more time now to add more to our schedule. Many locations now offer classes & activities during the day for homeschooled children. There are clubs, the park district, and some privately owned arenas offer classes during school hours and after school hours.
Are you able to take advantage of any programs or classes at the local public or private schools on an individual basis?
I have heard that there are public and private schools that allow homeschool students to participate in gym class, but that is not available in our district. You would need to check with your local schools. There are so many other options available for homeschoolers through public libraries, park districts, private institutions/businesses, museums, churches, community colleges, forest preserves, etc. It’s just a matter of making some calls and researching programs.
What is your favorite aspect of homeschooling?
Our children are best friends.
How can your non-homeschooling friends and neighbors best support your decision and efforts to homeschool?
Initially we were alone in this process because we didn’t know anyone that was homeschooling. I really spent months researching all I could, and went looking for fellow homeschoolers. Luckily, we have a very nice support system around us (family, neighbors, and friends). Most people think it’s wonderful that we are homeschooling. Others either can’t imagine themselves or don’t understand how it works. I’d probably say to keep an open mind and if you’re wondering…. just ask! Most of us in this community love talking about it.
What advice would you give a family that is considering homeschooling?
I would say that if you are considering whether or not to homeschool your children, research all you can and reach out to homeschooling families. Ask them questions. Homeschooling is a serious commitment so if you’re going to do it, see it through and plan ahead. For us, it was the best decision we ever made. It isn’t always easy, but it is extremely rewarding!
The Illinois State Board of Education has a Q&A document that answers legal questions. You can also click here to read more background of homeschooling in Illinois.
Illinois Christian Home Educators is another resource for homeschooling families in the state of Illinois.
Illinois HOUSE: a statewide network of support groups for people involved in homeschooling that provides email and phone support about issues related to Illinois homeschooling.
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association): defends and advances the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.
Groups and Co-ops
West Suburban Homeschoolers Meetup: provides fun educational activities that supplement what children are already learning at home. Throughout the year they meet for educational tours, museum visits, field trips, plays, and more.
Westside H.O.U.S.E.: an inclusive, non-sectarian network of homeschool families who meet to enjoy activities together, share experiences and lend support to one another.
Life-Long Exploration and Play (LEAP): a secular group that provides both unstructured and structured social activities, field trips and some group learning activities to families.
C.H.I.L.D. (Chicagoland Homeschoolers Inclusively Learning and Discovering): a group for families in the western suburbs of Chicago who seek to connect with others for support, ideas, and enjoyment.
Homeschool Kingdom: provides elective & gym classes to homeschool children of all ages and offer discipleship to their parents during Mom’s Hour in Villa Park.
IL Homeschoolers List: for the discussion of topics related to homeschooling in Illinois.
The Learning Vine: seeks to partner with Christian, home educating parents in the Naperville, IL area to add structure, community, and academic excellence to their home schools.
HEART: a Christian Home Educators support group located in the Bolingbrook area.
The Community Co-op: a family-oriented resource for homeschool families located in Oak Park and serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs that offers homeschool enrichment activities for homeschooling families once a week, for a day of friends, fun and learning.
The Master’s Home Educators (TMHE): encourages one another in the education of their children from a Christian perspective and provides support, information, and educational opportunities to their members.
South Suburban Homeschool & Gym Group: a cooperative group dedicated to providing healthy opportunities for the home school community through physical education, socialization, and creative classes.
Downers Grove Homeschool Playgroup: park/playground meet ups, free or low cost indoor/outdoor activities, group outings, friendship, support, and fun.
Chicagoland Homeschool Network: a free resource to help families in the Chicagoland area connect with resources to enhance their homeschool experience.
Trinity: a Catholic homeschool support group with an online forum where families post and discuss classes, and field trips.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Homeschool Group (OLOG): provides support and encouragement to Catholic homeschooling parents in the greater Joliet, Illinois, area.
There are also various Facebook groups available depending on learning style and curriculum used.
Classes, Activities, and Sports
Riverside Center for Education: offers a unique learning program where a staff of professional educators and volunteers provide sessions for boys, cultural events for the whole family, and co-ed activities.
One Day Enrichment: offers one day a week enrichment-type classes to augment the education of your child, classes that can be more effectively taught in a group.
The Greenhouse: provides classical, Christian education to home-schooled students.
Eastern DuPage for Godly Education (EDGE): meets at a church in west Wheaton each Friday during the school year and hold a full day of classes: 2 periods in the morning, assembly and lunch, then 2 more periods in the afternoon.
Classically Catholic Memory: Catholic homeschool memory work program, classical in nature, that guides parents and children in mastering challenging and inspiring material in eight subjects: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words.
Suzuki for Homeschool Families: offered in both Western Springs and Naperville
American Music Institute: offers customized homeschooling music classes
West Suburban Home School Band: follows the model of a community band and includes all wind instruments, woodwinds and brass, as well as a full percussion section.
Crusader Football Program: a tackle football team for high school age homeschool kids in the Chicago and northern Illinois area that exists to help young men develop the character and skills they will need to succeed beyond high school.
Indian Boundary YMCA in Downers Grove: offers a homeschool gym.
Many people have an image of what homeschooling means, but many don’t know that there are different types of homeschooling. My good friend Sarah homeschools her children and sent me this short article that does a good job explaining the different types of homeschooling.
She also offered the following tips:
Once you join a group, co-op, and/or connect with the other families in an online forum or email group, you start to learn about many other things, such as field trips, classes planned with in the group, sports and other activities planned within the group, theatre, etc.
Homeschoolers are also able to participate in the same reading programs that schools do like Pizza Hut and Six Flags.
Homeschooling parents receive teacher discounts at many places and also free admission to many museums, such as The Art Institute and Museum of Science and Industry, just as teachers do.
This post and photographs brought to you by West Suburban Homeschoolers.