Libertyville mom among homeschooling crowd
Brigid Dutton and her husband, Tom, have home- schooled their three children — Meaghan, 9; Katie, 8; and Keegan, 5 — for the past two years. they work together on their subjects at home and attend a co-op once a week. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:37PM
LIBERTYVILLE — Brigid Dutton has homeschooled her three children for the past two years, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We absolutely love it,” said Dutton, a former seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher.
Learning for the Duttons’ three kids — Meaghan, 9, Katie, 8, and Keegan, 5 — isn’t constricted to a set start time and end time, which is a good thing, Brigid Dutton said.
“We’re seeing that, as opposed to a traditional school day, everything the kids do, they’re learning,” she said.
Brigid Dutton instructs her children in such subjects as math, art appreciation, music and history in their Libertyville home.
“There’s a lot of overlap,” she said. “In history, we do a lot of reading. In science, we’re doing a lot of math.”
Her husband, Tom Dutton, helps when he can, usually with math or science. But Brigid is the primary educator of her brood.
“They all learn together,” she said, adding that she’s learning right along with her kids.
The Duttons expect to continue homeschooling through high school, and likely will stay with the once-a-week Indian Hill Co-op at Fairfield Road Baptist Church in Lake Villa, where their children learn a variety of subjects, including Spanish, weather and astronomy, theater and virtual research.
“The kids are getting what they need to learn, but in subject areas that interest them more,” she said. “It’s almost like going to college and being able to take electives.”
When the Duttons decided to pull both Meaghan and Katie from St. Joseph Catholic School in Libertyville and school them at home, Tom Dutton called Libertyville Elementary School District 70 to find out what services were available to them. While the district knows the Duttons are homeschooling, it’s uncertain if they are registered as homeschoolers, and that’s OK.
According to Mary Fergus, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Education, registration is voluntary.
The Home School Legal Defense Association estimates the number of homeschooled children in Illinois at about 60,000. That number is increasing.
“Nationally, homeschooling is growing by 7 (percent) to 15 percent a year. In Illinois, I would say it’s probably around 10 percent a year,” said Jeremiah Lorrig, director of media relations for the legal advocacy group.
The organization has more than 2,000 Illinois members.
In Vernon Hills Elementary School District 73, spokeswoman Lynn Brandl said there have been few inquiries from homeschool families.
“We’re ready to provide services, but we just haven’t had a lot of interaction at the grade levels that we serve,” she said. “I don’t really know if it’s because there are no children out there or if they wait until high school.”
At Mundelein High School, Director of Guidance Tom Buenik said he typically gets one homeschooled student a year who enrolls in a class, like chemistry, or who wants to participate in an extracurricular activity or sport.
“They have to register like our other families and prove residency and pay taxes in our community if they want to take classes at the high school,” Buenik said.
If everything is in order, Buenik said MHS is happy to help out.
“We’ve always had a positive experience with our homeschool families. We don’t close the doors to anybody,” he said.