There are a lot of opportunities that homeschoolers can benefit from in the Chicago suburbs! This guide, sponsored by the West Suburban Homeschoolers, answers some of the common questions about homeschooling. You will also find resources, groups, co-ops, classes, sports, and other activities geared towards homeschoolers!
Myrza Cozzi, local mom of four, created West Suburban Homeschoolers Facebook Group 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.
Click here to read more about West Suburban Homeschoolers and join the group. You can also contact Myrza directly through email or her website:
Some readers and I had questions about homeschooling and Myrza was kind enough to answer them! So below is a short question and answer session with the creator of the West Suburban Homeschoolers. 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 companies group their material by age or level. They also offer placement tests for math and reading. In that regard, it’s similar to how a traditional school would choose age-based curriculum.
There are several different methods of homeschooling to choose from for your children. With that in mind, there are so many choices when it comes to choosing a curriculum. Homeschooling families often choose based on their child’s needs and the best fit for the family. Homeschool conferences are available so that families can go 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”?
Most 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 1:30. After school my kids do some independent reading before calling it a day. We school 5 days a week. Vacation days and sick days are flexible for us because we are home. 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. We aim to school year round. I give them about a month off during the summer.
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 and we get to watch them grow and learn side-by-side.
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 great 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 and ask us questions! 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 other 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!
Where do you recommend people start when they have made the decision to homeschool?
I would recommend first researching your state requirements. In IL that can be done by going to Illinoishouse.org and hslda.org. Once the decision has been made I would connect with other homeschooling families. You’re not alone so it’s nice to find others you can talk to. There are many groups available on Facebook and on meetup. You’ll want to figure out what your homeschool style will be (because there are several ways to do this), as well as the curriculum you’ll choose. I would check out https://hiphomeschoolmoms.com/ as well as https://www.crossingovertohomeschooling.com/ to start.
Groups and Co-ops
West Suburban Homeschoolers: 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.
South Suburbs Homeschool Meet Up: a way to connect with other homeschooling families in the area to arrange field trips and activities
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.
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.
Roots and Wings Home School Co-Op: weekly extracurricular classes for homeschooled children in the Lincoln-Way area.
There are also various Facebook groups available depending on learning style and curriculum used, such as Homeschool co-op playgroup Plainfield/Joliet/Minooka and Will County Homeschoolers.
Classes, Sports, and Activities for Homeschoolers
Double J offers a variety of homeschool programs that focus on teaching children skills that nurture a reverence for life, care-taking of both animals and the environment, learning about sustainable agriculture and creating a strong sense of community.
10 week sessions: September 10 – November 15, 2018
Tuesdays or Thursdays at 10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Filled with movement, science experiments, group games and hands-on projects, your children will learn about a variety of animal science topics. $200
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:45 am – 12:15 pm
Students in this course will be challenged to higher order thinking through activity based learning. $175
Riverside Center for Education
Sessions for boys, cultural events for the whole family, and co-ed activities
Homeschool Kingdom (Elmhurst)
Elective and gym classes to homeschool children and discipleship to their parents during Mom’s Hour
Eagles Wing Resource (Downers Grove)
Classes including academic and creative exploration
One Day Enrichment (Oak Park)
Enrichment-type classes that can be more effectively taught in a group
The Greenhouse (Wheaton)
Classical, Christian education to home-schooled students
Eastern DuPage for Godly Education (EDGE)(Wheaton)
Full day of classes during the school year
Suzuki for Homeschool Families (Western Springs, Naperville)
Classical Suzuki music program
American Music Institute ( Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, St. Charles)
Homeschooling music classes
West Suburban Home School Band (Wayne)
Community band with woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections
Crusader Football Program
Tackle football team for high school age homeschool kids in the Chicago and Northern Illinois area
Indian Boundary YMCA (Downers Grove)
The Illinois State Board of Education has the homeschool registration form. You can also click here to read more background of homeschooling in Illinois.
Illinois Christian Home Educators: provides support to Christian homeschooling parents in Illinois through resources and events, and is best known for their annual convention in Naperville (being moved to Bourbonnais in 2019).
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.