The mission

Ever wished you could home school your child but didn't want to do it alone? Looking to be the main influence in your child's life but want help with the core curriculum part of the day? Looking for a community around home education in downtown Chicago? Look no further than Garfield Park's own Cottage School, a home schooling community where our "coop" goes from 9-1, Monday through Thursday and parents are always welcome!

Waldorf educators take their concept of teaching to the “threefold nature of the human being” from the idea that we are people with a body, a soul, and a spirit. The methods used to teach the students engage their “head, heart, and hands”. Charlotte Mason refers to our “reason, will, and affections” in her teaching methods. We are people who THINK things, DO things, and FEEL things.

Although our home schooling does not follow any one educator religiously, (we are more-or-less Waldorf) we do try to engage the child on all three levels. We also take seriously the ideas of developing healthy rhythm and habits for a child. The more we do based on habit, the less effort we have to spend WILLING ourselves into doing the things we “have to do” in life. Many discipline issues are solved when a child “knows what’s coming” in a day, and the development of crucial habits goes far in aiding the child’s learning both now and later in life.

We believe lessons that require a lot of “hard concentrating” should be kept short so that the child can apply their whole effort to the project and see it through to completion without becoming exhausted or, worse, disinterested.

However, lessons are never just “drilled in” at our home school. Stories, activities, projects, and plenty of drawings/visuals can make a lesson on fractions or phonics engaging rather than frustrating for a child.

It is our hope that each child receive a full education in the English language, math, history, science, and handwork/practical skills. However, we know that in the process of learning these things, much, much more will be learned that goes beyond any of these individual subjects.

 Free time to make up games, adventures, and projects is part of each morning as well. Lunch is a time to eat together and learn the social etiquette that goes with “dining with friends!” J After all, we are a community…not just individuals.

“Home school” gets out earlier than your local school would due to our feeling that there is a time for pouring into a child and then there is a time for them to work out that information in their own free play. An afternoon spent trying to build a catapult out of items found in the garage (after learning about castle warfare in the morning) is not a wasted afternoon!

A basic daily schedule and specifics on curriculum are on the pages to follow, but we hope we’ve communicated the basic heart behind our “school”.


Susan and Nicky

"...Health, strength, and agility, bright eyes, and alert movements, come of a free life, out-of-doors, if it may be, and as for habits, there is no habit or power so useful to man or woman as that of personal initiative. The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer's day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother's part, but of much masterly inactivity." ~Charlotte Mason (educator)