The Community Organization for Near West Homeschoolers Co-op membership includes diverse homeschooling families from throughout the Chicagoland area. We represent the full spectrum of those who would identify themselves as homeschoolers. A wide variety of homeschooling definitions, methodologies, and philosophies are represented. All are welcome. Members agree to be tolerant of one another.

Where do you meet?
We meet at Thatcher Woods Pavilion. This location affords us the ability to host both indoor and outdoor classes.  We embrace outdoor experiences and host some classes outdoors year-round.

What day does the co-op meet?
Thursdays, 9:30-2:30. We meet late September through early May.

Who’s involved?
Families sign up together with at least one parent that is committed to being present at co-op each week. The attending parent volunteers in the co-op in some capacity throughout the meeting day, and the children take classes that the co-op is offering.

What ages can attend?
Families with children from infant to 18 can participate, though structured programming is available for students 4yrs old and older. Children 3 yrs and younger old usually remain with their parents throughout the day, joining activities as appropriate.

Is this a drop off program?
We are not a drop-off co-op. Families are on the premises together throughout the day.

Why a co-op?
We seek for our children: community and continuity. A community of people committed to meeting weekly helps us to provide that for our children, while still homeschooling according to our own family’s plan. We have also found that some topics particularly lend themselves to a group setting.

Do I have to volunteer?
Yes, there are various jobs available, from leading a class to assisting with public relations. All attending parents are required to volunteer in order to make the co-op a success.

Is my style of homeschooling respected?
We consider ourselves to be an eclectic group and hope that people of all different homeschooling philosophies feel comfortable at the co-op.

What is the co-op’s homeschooling philosophy?
We don’t have a single homeschooling philosophy, but our classes are supplemental/enrichment topics and tend towards hands-on.

What topics do you offer?
Though exact classes can vary sometimes, especially for the older age groups, we typically offer classes such as Art, Language Arts, Gym, STEM Activities, and Nature Studies.

Can gifted kids participate?
Yes. We don’t have specifically gifted classes but because these are supplemental/enrichment classes, they work for kids of various abilities.

Can my child with special circumstances participate?
We hope so

. Please contact us to discuss any special circumstances.

What if my family can’t afford the full membership fees?
Financial assistance is available for families who qualify. Please contact us for information.

Can my child take only one class during the day?
No. This is a full day commitment, both financially and in terms of time. One of our goals is to create community and continuity, and that requires full participation by everyone. Each student is assigned to their age group and moves with that group of children throughout the day.

Is The Community Organization for Near West Homeschoolers a not for profit?
Yes! We are a 501(c)3 and also an Illinois Non-Profit.

Are you affiliated with a religion?
We are not affiliated with a religion and require all events, activities, and curriculum to be secular. But we are an eclectic, tolerant group and all who homeschool are welcome – religious and not religious.

What about my little ones?
Children 4 and over participate in structured programming in a laid-back, flexible environment.  Siblings younger than 4 are welcome to remain with the on-site parent or guardian throughout the day.

What if my little one needs a nap?
Little ones who need a quiet, dark room at a scheduled time for nap during co-op hours may have a hard time napping at co-op. Parents in this situation may want to make a private childcare arrangement outside of co-op.

If my little one doesn’t want to leave me, what will I do?
A quiet baby in a car seat or any child in a carrier such as a sling can join his/her parent during the day. We usually have extra adults on hand to help with the little ones also! If you are concerned about your situation and ability to care for your younger child(ren) throughout the day, please feel free to discuss options with any member of the board.

What if my older child wants me in the room all the time?
If your child’s need will be on-going, we encourage you to have an official volunteer role in the classroom. If your child’s need is transitional, we will be happy to work with you on how best to approach the transition.

Why are children 3 and under who attend with a parent given substantially less expensive junior membership?
The purpose of the junior membership is to enable younger siblings to accompany their older siblings throughout the day and participate in some activities provided by the co-op. With this in mind, we ask that parents contribute to the cost of running the co-op primarily through the children who are participating in our primary programs. The junior membership allows the younger children to attend without the full cost of membership.

Why don’t you allow visitors for a day so we can try before we buy, so to speak?
We are delighted when interested families want to investigate further! Unfortunately, we have found that having visitors during the co-op day is disruptive to those who have committed to the program, and we owe it to our participants to make their experience the best it can be. We also feel we owe it to those interested in the co-op to be able to give them our undivided attention in explaining the program and answering questions. We do have some terrific ways for you to get a feel for our organization. We have pictures and information at our website, including our blog. We’re always happy to answer questions by email or phone.

Why do you use September 30 as an age cut-off?
We had to pick a date in order to be consistent. Since we begin in late September, we chose September 30. Families joining at any time of year are able to know which age group is intended for their child by using their child’s September 30 age.