Family from Western Springs, LT, find benefit in home schooling
Julien Mathie talks with a Doings reporter about his experience being home schooled and the transition to Lyons Township High School. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:49PM
WESTERN SPRINGS — It doesn’t matter that the Sunderlands were living in Western Springs when they started their family.
Nor that they now live in Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary School District 181.
No matter how good a school district is, it will not be able to provide individualized instruction to meet each child’s abilities and interests, said Debra Sunderland, who home schools her children.
Sunderland said her friends’ children who were home schooled convinced her to home school Luke and his 9-year-old sister, Isabel.
“The kids I met were able to engage with me, with their siblings and with people of all different ages. They were really bright and creative,” Sunderland said.
Sunderland, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science and international studies, and a minor in French from Miami University of Ohio, likes being able to guide her children’s instruction, because she learns new information with them.
The children have separate lessons for “skill-driven” subjects, such as math and writing, but they study science, history and the humanities together, Sunderland said.
Sunderland also wanted their religious faith to be part of their education.
“I wanted them to be where it was okay to talk about God, to have a Christmas pageant. I wanted to give them a good foundation,” she said.
For Liam Mathie of LaGrange Park, who is a freshman at Lyons Township High School, there is freedom in being educated by his parents, Jane and Bryan.
“I could do a lot of things I wanted to and not stick to a certain rigid schedule,” he said. “It’s kind of like my mom guides us. It’s very much empowering.”
Jane Mathie said she decided to pull her sons from Forest Road School in LaGrange Park five years ago when Liam wasn’t getting the attention he needed for dyslexia and dysgraphia, difficulties in reading and writing.
Project-based learning affords a multidisciplinary approach. For a trip to Springfield, the family researched auto emission standards and met with lawmakers on the issue. They also studied the life and politics of Abraham Lincoln for visits to historic sites.
The family has biked across Illinois and holds memberships at most Chicago area museums. The boys are active in Boy Scout Troop 14 at the First United Methodist Church of La Grange, and Liam plays guitar in a blues trio.