Whether it’s something that’s always interested you or a path you’ve decided to explore due to the pandemic, we’ve got remote learning and homeschooling resources for you. Homeschooling offers the flexibility of creating a schedule and learning environment that works best for your family. Co-ops and groups all over the western suburbs encourage parents to work together to design learning and social experiences that are meaningful for their children. Enrichment classes and activities can also supplement the work you’re doing at home. Making educational decisions for our children can feel overwhelming. We hope the resources listed below are the guidance you need as you embark on your journey into homeschooling.
Ultimately whatever you decide to do will be the best decision. Whether this is a temporary decision because of Covid or you’re in it for the long haul, my advice is, “Don’t Stress over this.” Homeschooling is not crisis mode schooling. This should not be one more stressor to add to your life. Even if you’re e-learning, you could add homeschooling to the schedule by reading aloud some favorite classics, adding some extra math, doing an occasional science experiment with a quick lesson, learning a new language or throwing in some art. There’s no “wrong” way and you won’t fail your child. Children are sponges and they will absorb all information. Know that you know your child better than anyone in this world, and because of this you are their best teacher.Myrza Cozzi
This guide is sponsored by Mattix Music Studio.
There’s never been an easier year to try music lessons, and Mattix Music Studio is the place to be! Students love having a fun, consistent activity, while parents enjoy the flexible options of virtual or in-person classes.
Choose a morning, afternoon, or evening class time that fits your schedule perfectly. No matter what your needs or preferences, Mattix Music has the right program for you!
Sign up for piano, violin, viola, cello or voice lessons for ages three to adult. Suzuki or traditional methods offered by all our outstanding teachers.
Virtual, In-Studio or In-Home lessons available.
Children age 0-5 sing, dance, learn and grow in fun, engaging classes.
Outdoor and Virtual classes available.
Kids age 4-8 have a blast singing, drumming and moving to exciting, multicultural music.
Outdoor and Virtual classes available.
Mattix Music Studio is located at the Grand Avenue Community Center at 4211 Grand Avenue in Western Springs. Call (708) 638-3027 of visit their website for more information and schedules.
Homeschooling vs Remote Learning
As our schools went through huge changes to adjust to pandemic life, the concept of remote learning became prevalent. Families started to use the term “homeschooling” because so many of us across the country were schooling at home, but it’s important to note that remote learning and homeschooling are not the same.
With remote learning, a teacher from the school district is directing the topics and assigning lessons and the parents or caregivers are supporting and directing that learning at home. The method in which remote learning can occur varies widely, but can include live teaching, pre-recorded video lessons, worksheets, and project assignments.
Homeschooling is parent-led, which means that the parent(s) are the primary instructors. They keep track of progress and grades, as well as create level-appropriate assignments with or without support from purchased curriculums, local groups or co-ops, library resources, online guidance, and more.
Both have positive aspects and struggles, but the purpose of this guide is to give you resources for either of these situations so you can find support and help if you choose (or find yourself) in either of these learning situations.
Classes Offered During the Day
Mattix Music Studio (Western Springs): They offer several ways to incorporate music into your day, including private lessons, Music Together, and Rhythm Kids. More information about Mattix Music Studio can be found above towards the beginning of this guide or on their website: mattixmusic.com.
Enlightium Christian Academy (Bloomingdale): Christian-based online homeschool programming.
Double J Riding Programs (Countryside): Science, animal and nature-based programs offered for various ages, including early education.
Homeschool Kingdom (Elmhurst): A co-op with scheduled both parent-led and instructor classes. These may include both standard and enrichment courses.
Eagles Wing Resource (Downers Grove): Classes including academic and creative exploration.
The Legacy Ranch (Lockport): Horseback riding lessons, equine-assisted therapy, and more.
Roots and Wings Home School Co-Op: a Christian co-op with weekly extracurricular classes for homeschooled children in the Lincoln-Way area.
Farmhouse Academy (Mokena): Homeschool cooking classes offered weekday mornings.
Classic Sewing (Naperville): Sewing classes for kids and adults. In-person and virtual options.
One Day Enrichment (Oak Park): Enrichment-type classes offered on Fridays to enhance homeschool curriculum.
All-In Consulting and Educational Services (ACES) (Oswego): An education support group which also offers a la carte homeschool classes.
Riverside Center for Education: Educational and social sessions for boys, as well as co-ed or whole family activities.
The Greenhouse (Wheaton): Christian education offered as core or elective classes to home-schooled students.
STREAM Homeschool Enrichment (Wheaton): Arts and science classes offered as enrichment on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Eastern DuPage for Godly Education (EDGE) (Wheaton): Full day of enrichment classes offered on Fridays during the school year.
Suzuki for Homeschool Families (Western Springs, Naperville): Classical Suzuki music program lessons and classes.
American Music Institute (Clarendon Hills, Downers Grove, St. Charles)
Homeschooling music classes such as lessons, choir, or band.
West Suburban Home School Band (Wayne): Community band for homeschool students with woodwinds, brass, and percussion sections
Crusader Homeschool Sports Program: Basketball, football, soccer, baseball, track, volleyball and PE classes offered for homeschool students in northern Illinois.
Chromatic Music Conservatory (Oak Park): Violin and viola lessons online and in person.
You can also find more options for classes in our Guide to Kids Classes and Teams. We have found that most businesses in our area are very receptive to changing needs and are willing to create opportunities for our kids at different times of the day.
Homeschooling Groups and Co-ops
West Suburban Homeschoolers: provides 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.: a non-sectarian organization of homeschooling families. This group coordinates activities at weekly meetings.
Life-Long Exploration and Play (LEAP): a secular group that provides social activities, field trips and some group learning experiences to families.
C.H.I.L.D. (Chicagoland Homeschoolers Inclusively Learning and Discovering): a group for homeschooling families in the western suburbs of Chicago who seek to connect with others.
HEART: a Christian support group for home educators 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.
The Master’s Home Educators (TMHE): a Christian-based group that provides support, information, and educational opportunities to their members.
Corridor 34 Homeschoolers: a social organization for homeschooling families in the Oswego, Plainfield, Aurora and Naperville area.
South Suburban Homeschool & Gym Group: a cooperative group focused on social, physical education and creative experiences for home school families.
Chicagoland Homeschool Network: a hub of resources for families in the Chicago area to connect with homeschool resources and tools.
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): a Catholic homeschool support group in the Joliet area.
Not sure where to begin? The Facebook group Homeschooling–New & Considering (West Chicago Suburbs) may help you start your research with parents going through your same decision making process.
There are also various Facebook groups available depending on learning style and curriculum used, such as:
- Homeschool co-op playgroup Plainfield/Joliet/Minooka
- Northern Illinois Lifeschoolers
- Homeschooling in Naperville and Beyond
- Will County Kendall Grundy County Homeschoolers.
- DuPage County Homeschoolers
- Illinois Homeschooling Families
- Homeschooling in the Fox Valley
- Downers Grove Area Homeschoolers
- Crossing Over to Homeschooling
Check your local library for groups! In Naperville, for example, the public library offers homeschool meet-up opportunities, as well as online resources available.
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.
Illinois HOUSE: a major network of homeschooling groups that provides email and phone support about issues related to Illinois homeschooling.
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association): a homeschooling advocacy group. They also offer online academy courses for grades 7-12.
Myrza Cozzi, local mom of four and creator of the West Suburban Homeschoolers Facebook Group answered some commonly asked questions about homeschooling. Her perspective is helpful in deciding if you would like to homeschool your children longer term as opposed to participating in remote learning for 2020, as well as learning how to support your friends and/or family that choose to homeschool.
How do you choose a curriculum to accommodate the different ages of your kids?
Most companies group their material by grade level. Where you place your child depends on your child’s ability. Placement tests are available for math and reading for a better assessment. Once you have decided on a homeschool style, then you dig deeper in books that fit that style. My four children all follow the style I’ve chosen, and we veer slightly if I find a book (or set of books) that might work better for one vs. the other. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can adjust everything to the needs of your children. One may do better with one math program while the other may struggle and need something more. There are so many choices when it comes to choosing curriculum. Homeschooling families often choose based on their child’s needs and the best fit for the family. Homeschool conferences are available where you’re able to listen to seasoned speakers, check out materials, and meet like minded individuals.
How do you structure your day? Vacation days? Do you take “snow days”?
We start our day at 8:30 am by doing chores and having breakfast before sitting down to start school. We begin around 9:30 and aim to finish by 1:30. Some days may take a little longer (a toddler is involved). After school my kids do some independent reading before calling it a day. We school 5 days a week and year-round. Snow days? What’s that? We school right through those. If we need a vacation, we take it. Year-round isn’t for everyone. Homeschool is all about flexibility, so it’s what you find works best for your family.
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. I give them a week off during the major holidays, and two weeks off during summer while I’m planning the following year. We still do math and reading during these breaks.
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 until they are ready to enter a University. Some high schools will allow a homeschooled child to take a class or two or even partake in sports or gym. If this is something that interests you, I recommend calling your district to see what’s involved.
Homeschooled children will need to take a placement test when entering the public school system. I would assume this is true of any traditional school to better determine where the child places academically when entering a classroom.
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. There are classes & activities offered during the day for homeschooled children such as clubs, the park district, and some privately owned arenas.
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.
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). Now that the country has been thrust into deciding between remote learning or homeschooling, I bet there is an abundance of resources out there now and seems like more and more people are open and understanding of the idea of 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. If you’re going to do it, see it through and plan ahead. Homeschooling is not remote learning or e-learning. It’s actually very different. For us, it was the best decision we ever made. It isn’t always easy, but it is extremely rewarding! Keep an open mind and heart when deciding. Patience before and during are key in this process.
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 the Illinois Department of Education and researching the requirements.
Once the decision has been made I would connect with other homeschooling families. Find someone or a few people who have been doing it a long time with older children (at least middle school age). You’ll get more seasoned advice from people who have been doing this a long time. You’re not alone so it’s nice to find others you can talk to. There are now an abundance of groups available on Facebook that you can check out.
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. One good site to check out is Illinoishouse.org. Read books on homeschooling and just breathe.
Look for more activities that your homeschooler will like in our classes and teams guide.
Are we missing any groups or resources you love? Leave a comment below or email Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us about it.