Clarendon Hills family finds benefits in home schooling
Debra Sunderland homeschools her children, Luke, 14, and Isabel, 9. "The most amazing thing is my kids can relate to anyone of any age," Sunderland says. | J.Geil — For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:23PM
Clarendon Hills — Luke Sunderland, who will turn 14 on Sept. 16, has been home schooled his entire life by his mother.
Debra Sunderland of Clarendon Hills 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.
It doesn’t matter that the Sunderlands were living in Western Springs when they started their family and 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, Sunderland said.
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.
District 181 Superintendent Renee Schuster said home schooling provides some flexibility in scheduling and curriculum that public schools cannot provide.
“Successful home schooling requires a great deal of time and effort,” she 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.
Luke said home schooling allows him to spend more time on the subjects that interest him.
“If I like a certain topic, I could go into studying it further,” Luke said.
Luke, who has studied French since he was 3, has been to France seven times. This year, for the first time, Sunderland hired a retired high school French teacher to help all of them improve their fluency and pronunciation.
“The people who are going to lead the world are going to be home schooled,” Sunderland said.