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Homeschooling in the Chicago Suburbs: Co-ops, Field Trips, & Family Activities

homeschooling in the Chicago suburbs: co-ops, field trips, & family activities

As I’ve written this post, all of my family’s belongings were loaded onto a 26’ moving truck and taken to our new home in another state! 

After searching online for co-ops and extracurricular activities near our new home, I realized firsthand how helpful it is when bloggers share their favorite local homeschooling resources!

So, before my family leaves the northwest Chicago suburbs, I want to post a “brain dump” of all the northern Illinois homeschooling resources I’ve found over the years. We’ve been parenting and homeschooling here for over a decade and have collected a list of awesome co-ops, support groups, nature centers, field trip ideas, and more! 

A Tale of Two Subjects: Why Homeschooling Parents Succeed (Even If They Aren’t Experts)

Why Homeschooling Parents Succeed Even If They Aren't Experts - A Tale of Two Subjects

Have you ever questioned your ability to educate your own kids? Are you scared to teach math or science (or any other subject) because you barely made it through those subjects yourself?

Or, have you wondered how homeschooling parents can teach their own kids when they aren’t certified teachers?

The “parents-can’t-homeschool-since-they-aren’t-certified-teachers” criticism is (unfortunately) still a common homeschool myth. I debunk it pretty thoroughly in my book, Think About Homeschooling: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & Why It Works, so you can check that out and put that myth to rest in your mind. 

But, for now, I’d like to address those of you who are genuinely concerned that you won’t be able to teach your kids _______ (fill in the blank with your weakest subject). 

Homeschools Are NOT Public Schools (and That’s Okay!)

homeschools are not public schools and that's okay

Today, my 7th grader did his math lesson on a laptop in my parents’ dining room, his spelling on the living room floor, and his history on the couch.

Yesterday, we planned a last-minute field trip to a children’s museum since grandma was available to join us.

Last week, when all the public schools were in session, we took our Spring break because it worked better for our family’s schedule.

A month ago, my 4th grader and I decided to switch to a different math curriculum. We transitioned mid-year to a program that worked better for him.

We’ve got no school desks, no bulletin boards, no interactive smart whiteboard, and no lockers. Some days we start school at 7am and other days at 10am. Our homeschool is a far cry from a public school classroom. 

But it wasn’t always so. 

Kids Are Always Learning (Even When They’re Bored)

kids are always learning - even when they're bored

Kid: “Mommy… I’m bored!”

Mom: “Good!”

I think this is how I’ll respond to my kids from now on when they complain to me that they’re bored. 

No, it probably won’t go over very well with them. But boredom – free, unscheduled, unfettered time – is a GIFT in our culture today. Too much free time can become an issue, of course. But, for many of us, time to think and dream and putter around is often lacking.

Think About Homeschooling

Think About Homeschooling

I could never homeschool because…

  • I can’t spend 24/7 with my kids.
  • I can’t teach every subject and every grade.
  • It takes too much time.
  • I’m not a teacher.
  • I don’t remember calculus.
  • I don’t know how to find curricula.
  • We can’t afford it.
  • I want my kids to socialize and have friends.
  • I don’t have enough patience.
  • I want my kids to have all the opportunities schools provide.

These are all concerns I had when our family first considered homeschooling and I hear non-homeschooling parents say things like this all the time

Give Your Family the Gift of Time… Homeschool!

Give Your Family the Gift of Time... Homeschool!

We all have 24 hours in a day. 

You can work hard to earn more money, you can study to gain more knowledge, and you can always buy more stuff. But time is one commodity we can’t get more of, no matter how hard we try. 

You can’t earn it. You can’t buy it. You can only spend it more carefully. 

Spending your time wisely and intentionally is the closest any of us can get to gaining more time. One of the best ways – in fact, the best way – that my family has found to take back time in our lives has been by homeschooling.

Homeschooling’s Secret Weapon

Homeschooling's Secret Weapon

What is this secret weapon, you ask?

Here’s a hint…

All moms and dads have this parenting tool in their arsenal. But homeschooling offers the advantage of significantly more time and freedom to use it!

So, what is this thing that makes homeschooling so effective, even when it’s used by average Jane’s and Joe’s teaching their kids in their kitchen?

Drum roll, please…

Kids Are Always Learning (Even on Vacation)

Kids Are Always Learning Even on Vacation

”Do you ask a fish how it swims? Or a bird how it flies? No sirree, you don’t! They do it because they were born to do it!”

– Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Just like Willy Wonka was born to invent new candy bars, kids were born to learn!

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about why homeschooling works easily for kids of all ages. They’re even learning on sick days. And, on our recent trip to the lake, I was reminded (yet again) how kids are always learning – even on vacation!

How to Homeschool – A Quick Start Guide for Desperate Parents

How to Homeschool - A Quick Start Guide for Desperate Parents

It’s August…. The END of August…. 

If you’re being thrown into homeschooling unexpectedly (due to COVID-19 or for any other reason), this might be the moment you start to panic. 

Or, it might be when the panic you’ve felt rising for months turns into full-blown freaking out. 

As a friend of mine says to lighten the mood when her kids are stressed out, “don’t worry… sausages!” 

Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay.