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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

(Last Updated on January 16, 2024)

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! 

Keep in mind, this isn’t a complete list by any means. But I’m hoping something listed here will be helpful to any parent in the greater Chicagoland area. 

All the groups on this list are ones I’ve either used myself or have had personally recommended to me by a friend. You can check out sites like for more ideas.

Whether you’re new to Illinois or have been here a while, check out the links below to get connected to the thriving (and rapidly growing!) homeschooling community in the Chicago suburbs!

Co-ops & Support Groups

There are many types of homeschooling groups in the Chicagoland area. If you’re looking for one, first think about what kind of group you need. A parental support group? A laid back co-op with elective-type classes? A structured private-school-like experience? A hybrid school where the school decides the curricula? Research multiple options to find the best fit. 

Extracurricular & Academic Activities

The best way to find out about extracurricular clubs and activities for homeschoolers is to ASK! As an introvert, I’ve learned if I can summon the courage to speak up, other homeschooling parents are happy to share great local resources they’ve found! 

Downtown Chicago Adventures

I’m listing the downtown Chicago activities in their own section since Chicago is kind of its own separate world to many of us in the suburbs. 

I’ve always been one of those scaredy-cat suburbanites who tries hard to avoid driving downtown. But, if you live anywhere near Chicago, you really should try and brave the traffic and crowds to check out the amazing museums and sights in the big city at least once in a while!

One option my kids always loved was taking the train to Chicago for a field trip and then stopping at a “train restaurant” on the way home. The Choo Choo (Des Plaines) and 2Toots Train Whistle Grill (Bartlett) were two of our favorites that deliver your meal on a model train! 

A lot of the downtown museums offer free days or special educational/homeschooling discounts, tours, and classes – so be sure to call ahead and find out about current deals before you go! 

Field Trip Ideas

There are so many options for field trips around this area! Besides the ones listed here, you can find more at or by asking other homeschoolers for their favorite suggestions. 


Northern Illinois is blessed with a number of amazing, high-quality children’s and themed museums. If you plan on going more than once, definitely look into the membership options. 

Nature Centers, Farms, & Zoos

It seems like every town and county around here has something to offer for the animal and nature lovers in your family!

Historic Farms & Tours

These places overlap with the “Nature Centers & Farms” but I’ve made them their own category because they focus on preserving the historical aspect of their buildings/site (think Laura Ingalls Wilder and churning butter and all that). 

  • The Grove (Glenview) – especially check out their Homeschool Week programs (typically in March)
  • Heritage Farm (Schaumburg) – connected to Bison’s Bluff Playground and Spring Valley Nature Center
  • Klein Creek Farm (West Chicago) – we loved their “Barn Raising” field trip program
  • Naper Settlement (Naperville)
  • Old World Wisconsin (Eagle, WI) – you can easily spend an entire day here – it’s a little far but worth the drive

Amusement Parks, Waterparks, & Other Fun Places

There are so many fun places to take your kids around here! Call ahead to find out about group and educational discounts and special homeschool days/offers.

Open Gym & Athletic Programs

There are dozens of park districts and private gym-type places that have homeschool P.E. programs in the Chicagoland area. The ones I’m listing here have had quality programs I’ve used in the past for my own kids (but that’s no guarantee that they will in the future, especially post-pandemic). 

If you’re looking for gym options for your kids, call your local park district, YMCA, private gymnastics studios, swimming facilities, and places like Urban Air or Jump Zone. Many of these kinds of places have discounted daytime classes for homeschoolers or they might consider creating a program if there’s enough interest.


Just FYI – if you’re new to the area and you’re used to skiing in actual mountains, don’t be fooled by the names of these places. Compared to Vail and Breckenridge, these ski “mountains” are more like mole hills. But, they’re still fun, family-friendly places and they’re especially great for kids or skiers who aren’t quite ready for the Rockies. 

Some of these ski facilities have homeschool specials but I’ve found they don’t always advertise them on their websites. Call before you go to make sure you’re getting the best deal you can!

Volunteering & Service Opportunities

One of the benefits of the homeschooling is the flexibility to use traditional “school hours” to spend time volunteering and helping out in the community. Your local township, village, church, or library would probably know of many more options, too. 


I’m not going to try and list all bazillion libraries in the Chicagoland area. But there are a few I thought I’d mention because they had a special feature or I’ve known them to be extra helpful to homeschoolers.

But don’t feel limited to these few libraries! Just call the ones nearest to you and ask them if they have any homeschool classes, daytime educational programs, or if they’d be willing to give your family or homeschool group a private tour. In my experience, they’re generally very accommodating if you just ask!

  • Addison Public Library – in the past they’ve always had a large assortment of toys, puzzles, and educational games to check out
  • Barrington Area Library – this library is like a mini kids’ museum with toys, puzzles, activities, iPads, and even an indoor slide
  • Elk Grove Village Public Library – this library has a nice play area, fun classes, and they’ve hosted homeschool events in the past
  • Johnsburg Public Library District – Johnsburg has an extensive homeschool resource library and hosts regular homeschooling seminars and used curriculum sales
  • Schaumburg Township District Library – we’ve enjoyed the young children’s play area, “tween” and “teen” sections, and the growing collection of games and education kits available for checkout
  • Wauconda Area Public Library – they’ve been very accommodating for our homeschool groups and had a great “behind-the-scenes tour” with automated book sorting machine

Neighborhood Resources

There are too many of these to list by individual town – but, in general, cities and villages in the Chicago suburbs have a lot to offer families. Call your local village office to find out what’s going on near you throughout the year. 

  • Parades, Festivals, & County Fairs – we especially like the 4th of July parades in Carol Stream and Warrenville, the mid-summer parades in West Chicago and Streamwood, and the Christmas parade in Wheaton since they’ve all regularly included the West Suburban Homeschool Marching Band
  • Public Works Events –  for example, Palatine’s “Big Trucks” or Schaumburg’s “Public Works Open House” (both usually in May) are great family-friendly, educational events
  • Fire Dept. Open Houses – look for these especially in October which is National Fire Safety Month
  • Police Dept. Open Houses & Student Police Academy – Check with your local police department to see if they offer any events like this – even if not, they might be willing to setup a special tour for your family or co-op group if you ask 

Seasonal Special Events

A lot of the places I’ve mentioned decorate and have special events at Christmastime. Here are a few places that have particularly amazing Christmas events.

  • Brookfield Zoo (Brookfield) – Holiday Magic event
  • Klein Creek Farm (Wheaton) – Christmas on the Farm tours
  • Morton Arboretum (Lisle) – Illumination event
  • Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago) – Christmas Around the World event
  • Wheaton Christmas Parade (Wheaton) – traditionally, the West Suburban Homeschool Band is the featured band in the parade
  • Winterfest (Lake Geneva, WI) – amazing ice and snow sculptures and activities

Illinois Groups & Conferences

If you’re new to homeschooling or need some new ideas, consider attending a homeschool conference to be encouraged on your homeschooling journey! I also recommend bringing the homeschool skeptics in your family (spouses, grandparents, etc.) to these conferences since they have a way of changing people’s perception of homeschooling in a positive way!

Reading Incentive Programs

We’ve found some fun reading incentive programs local to the northwest and surrounding Chicago suburbs. Many libraries also host summer or year-round reading incentive programs. And, if your kids are like mine and already love reading, then why not get some bonus freebies for something they’re already doing!

Illinois Homeschool Connections

I’m sure there are many other homeschooling experts in the area, but I’ve met these specific people personally and they’re all a wealth of information when it comes to homeschooling in Illinois.

General Homeschooling Links

These final links aren’t specific to Illinois. But, if you’re new to homeschooling, they might be helpful as you research homeschooling laws, curricula, and general home education info. 

(There may be affiliate links in this post – click here to learn more. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

If you’re new to homeschooling or to the Chicagoland area (or just need a few fresh ideas), I hope this list has given you a good start at finding some helpful homeschooling activities and connections! 

And, remember, if the first group or resource you try isn’t a good match, don’t be discouraged! Just like shopping for new shoes, sometimes it takes a few tries to find a good fit. 

Happy Homeschooling!

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