Welcome to The Learning House



Through the use of mastery learning and natural and logical consequences, The Learning House integrates individualized education, vocational support, counseling and experiential activities to encourage a sense of self worth and mutual respect; healthy decision making; responsibility and accountability; a sense of community; and a respectful future.


Discover More


Special Events & Field Trips

View the images of recent Trips & Events with The Learning House.

click thumbnails to view

Springfield / St. Louis

The Learning House went on its annual Springfield and St. Louis field trip on November 29th - December 1st.  We began with a tour of the Old State Capitol where we learned about the wonderful things that went on there in the middle 1800’s.  One fact that stood out was that it held the largest library in the state in 1880.  Next, we went to the Abraham Presidential Library Museum where we saw two amazing shows.  One featured a real life ghost of a Civil War Veteran!  We ate horseshoes at D’Arcy’s that night for dinner and went swimming at the hotel. The next day we went to the current State Capitol building where we were able to actually see where the Senate and the House of Representatives meet.   We then toured Lincoln’s home and his grave site. “It was both powerful and depressing” as Tommy M.  put it. We also were able to tour the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in Springfield.  This is where the State houses its emergency response team for chemical, terrorist and natural disasters.   We drove to St. Louis that afternoon to go up into the Arch standing 680 feet tall.  The ride up was scary and when we got to the top, it was very foggy, but we could see a few cars below us.  Thursday night we had great pizza and went in the pool again at the hotel! We traveled back to Wheeling on Friday and looked forward to some much needed sleep!


Universal Technical Institute

On November 4th, eight students from our automotive class attended a field trip to the Universal Technical Institute in Lisle, IL.  During the first part of the event, students learned about circuits and resisters in a “hands on” lab that allowed them to experiment with different wiring systems that are standard in most automobiles.  Following the lab portion of the day, students were then led on a tour of the facility that included the institute’s diesel, automobile, refrigeration, high performance, custom design and transmission departments.  Students were also given the opportunity to talk with a few of the instructors in the program as well as learn more about the career opportunities available in the automotive industry.


Young Chicago Authors

On Tuesday, September 22nd, students from The Learning House attended a writing workshop at Young Chicago Authors. The workshop began with the facilitator having students list the different “groups” they were a part of. Then they had to identify what people thought about those groups. Using the example of “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, students had to create a poem or movie idea that contradicted the ideas people had of their group. All of the students did a great job with their writing and affirming one another after each person shared their writing with the group.


Paintball Social Field Trip

On Friday, April 15th, The Learning House Students went to Paintball Explosion in East Dundee. Illinois. The students of TLH had a great time! Each student had to be academically eligible and have no absences or behavioral issues throughout the week. The weather was perfect and the day ended with a student against staff match where the students prevailed as victors over the staff! This is the 6th time the Field Trip Committee has organized a day at Paintball Explosion!


Microsoft Field Trip

Replace this placeholder copy with your copy. And new images to your Gallery set - microsoft. This rest of this copy is placeholder. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras a elit porttitor purus molestie porttitor. Suspendisse sed aliquet ipsum, sed malesuada ex. Suspendisse eget metus sed nibh tincidunt ultricies. Etiam nec dictum ligula. Nunc aliquam mattis mauris, et scelerisque odio fringilla id. Nullam eleifend, elit eu venenatis lacinia, eros ipsum rutrum diam, vitae varius tellus sem at nisi. Sed sem dui, feugiat id congue vitae, scelerisque et mauris.



The 2018 Event Calendar

High School Program

Our Goals


Within the field of education, there are many approaches and methods available to provide opportunities to students who have, until now, experienced limited success in traditional special education programs. The Learning House provides a unique blend of academic education, counseling, work experience, and outdoor education designed to serve children ages 12-21 who have been determined eligible to receive special education under section 14.702 of the Illinois School Code in the categories of ED/SLD/OHI/Autsim. We believe the synergy inherent in the program allows students to apply the knowledge gained within each component to help them be successful across each of the areas listed above.


Students choosing to attend The Learning House enter a community that is supportive, nurturing and receptive to their needs. Issues of mutual trust, respect and encouragement are primary to the relationships fostered between students and staff.

This environment asks that every member be responsible and accountable for their contribution to the community. As students work within The Learning House community, they are faced with a multitude of choices. Some of these choices are made on their own, some with the help of peers, and others with the guidance of adults. Throughout their experience at The Learning House, students are asked by the community to accept responsibility for their choices.

Because making choices is a life-long process and the results of one choice may have an impact on future choices, it is the goal of The Learning House to provide a consistent, yet supportive, approach to helping our students make better choices.

When the results of a student's decision occur naturally, without the influence of any other person, especially of the adults around him, the student is much more likely to accept the consequence of his actions and learn from the experience. When this is not possible due to issues such as safety, efficiency, or clarity, it is still important that the results of a student's decision have some logical connection to the choice that was made.

When students learn to make better decisions, not because they were forced to or because of an artificial reward, but because they choose to, they are in essence preparing themselves for the demands that will be placed on them in less restrictive educational settings and in their life after graduation.


Putting The Philosophy Into Practice

Paramount to the idea of helping students make positive choices for themselves is the fact that their choices have an influence on their own life. It is for this reason that students are involved in the decision-making processes at The Learning House. This involvement takes two forms.

First, decisions regarding day-to-day rules, policies and events are made by the three groups of people who are at The Learning House on a day-to-day basis. During morning meetings and community planning groups, these decisions are made in a democratic fashion by the students, the staff and the administration of The Learning House. It is the students who make up the majority in these decisions.

In addition, decisions regarding overall operations and philosophies of The Learning House are approved and discussed by The Learning House Advisory Board. This board is comprised of equal representation from the following groups of people: staff, students, parents, school district representatives, foundation board representatives and the Director who reports to this board. It is in this way that students are given a variety of choices and responsibilities within their school community.

It is not only important that students have an influence within their environment, but also that they are motivated within that environment. The Learning House provides a wide variety of curricula, including all of the required courses for graduation as well as additional electives such as autos, woods, and foods. Every course is taught stressing improvement in the basic skills of reading and writing, while providing the motivational attributes of a hands-on experience.



The use of Mastery Learning applies The Learning House philosophy into the classroom. Within the Mastery Learning approach, students must complete assignments on a mastery level (80% or better) before moving on to their next assignment. This approach is continued on a semester basis so students not completing one semesters work remain in the class until the subject area has been mastered. Once a student completes the coursework, he is asked to give input into choosing his next course of study.

Each student at The Learning House has a post high school transition plan which aids students in preparing for life after high school. For example, students are given the opportunity to research colleges and jobs with the help of a staff member. Students are given the materials and support necessary for whatever their individual post high school goals may be.


It is already obvious that students at The Learning House are asked to make a wide variety of decisions with differing ranges of importance. In order to facilitate the decision-making process as well as the learning process after those decisions are made, each student is assigned to an individual therapist who meets with that student on a weekly basis.

The students also participate in group counseling designed to help foster a safe environment in which students can discuss issues among their peers. Each group is designed to address a different set of needs. As these needs change, the groups are reevaluated and redesigned to accommodate the community.

The student's school environment only makes up approximately 40% of their total environment. Because the student's family is such a key element in the student's total environment, The Learning House makes every effort to encourage the blending of school and family. Family therapy is scheduled every month in order to address and support the family's efforts at home as well as to encourage the family's support of their student's efforts at school. Additionally, parental involvement in support groups and the Parent-Teacher Organization is requested on a bi-monthly basis. The Clinical Director is available to the student and his/her family 24 hours per day for crisis intervention.

Work Program

Entering the job market is the natural result of a student's completion of his/her academic pursuits. The Learning House provides a series of vocational approaches to prepare its students for this eventuality.

Students entering The Learning House are asked to help in the basic housekeeping duties at school on a day-to-day basis. In response to their help in this area, they receive an "allowance" of six dollars every other week. This allowance is taken from the student treasury.

As students progress, they may apply for a job within the student work program. The work program provides the students with a "mock" work experience through which they can develop transferable job skills while earning a paycheck. Students are exposed to the traditional demands of the workplace, including promptness, efficiency, maintaining relationships with co-workers and supervisors, and the alliance between actual job performance and merit pay raises.

Students also receive academic credit for their participation in the work program. All revenues earned from the completed jobs are deposited into the student treasury. Any profits that are held after the students are paid their "allowance" or their "wages" are available to the student community to be spent in any manner the community sees fit. As students progress through this program, opportunities for employment in their local community and early dismissal from school are available.




Just as school work and the preparation for work after school is important, so too is a time for recreation. The Learning House provides three different settings in which appropriate recreational activities are facilitated.

The Learning House also encourages students to plan recreational field trips of their own choosing. After the community has decided upon the desired activity, the staff at The Learning House will be available to provide assistance and supervision in the preparation and the participation of the event.

Additionally, The Learning House participates in the Chicago Area Alternative Educational League. CAAEL encourages students to participate in sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball, and flag football, while stressing the importance of good sportsmanship, teamwork and academic eligibility.

The Learning House also strongly supports the notion of Outdoor Education. During the summer, the staff and students at The Learning House, through monies raised by The Learning House Foundation, participate in a number of outdoor educational experiences designed to foster qualities of teamwork, cooperation, self-esteem, goal setting and trust in a relaxed atmosphere away from school. These activities include, but are not limited to, rock-climbing, water-skiing, ziplining, horseback riding, and an expanding range of similar adventures.

While students have the opportunity to earn credit by participating in these activities, the long term value is usually found in the sense of self-worth and the improved relationships of the group participants. The Learning House believes these skills to be transferable to more academic pursuits during the school year.

Daily Schedule

The school day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Fridays the school day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. Those students who remain caught up in their coursework will be eligible for early dismissal (3:30 p.m.), rather than leaving at the regular dismissal of 4:30 p.m. Those students who have not earned the privilege to leave on the early dismissal program at 3:30 p.m. remain at The Learning House until 4:30 p.m. to receive additional one-on-one assistance for the remaining hour of the day.

Each day begins with a morning meeting in which issues regarding the day's activities and events are discussed. Classes begin at 8:45 a.m. There are three, forty minute class periods in the morning with a four minute "passing period" between each class. After the first three academic periods, students go to study hall or complete their assigned "chores" for 25 minutes.  They then participate in group therapy for 40 minutes, followed by lunch for 40 minutes. 

After lunch, there are three more periods of academics. At 3:00 p.m., students needing additional academic help are asked to go to study hall while those students caught up in their studies are free to choose from a variety of activities such as Art Club, Fitness Club, additional work time, or other extra-curricular activities mutually agreed upon by students and staff.

During the summer, our schedule changes. The day still begins at 8:30 a.m. and allows the same schedule until 1:30 p.m. (unless students are eligible for early dismissal, at which time the students are dismissed at noon). This schedule occurs Monday through Friday unless there is an outdoor education trip scheduled, where the students will attend school until 3:30.

Bell Schedule

1st Period: 8:45-9:25

2nd Period: 9:29-10:09

3rd Period: 10:13-10:53

Chores/Work Program: 10:57-11:22

Group: 11:25-12:06

Lunch: 12:06-12:45

4th Period: 12:49-1:29

5th Period: 1:33-2:13

6th Period: 2:17-2:57

Study Hall: 3:01-3:26

Extended Day Program: 3:30-4:25


A typical Learning House student is between the ages of 12 and 21. Most of the students who come to The Learning House possess average to above average intelligence, yet their history in school has been unsuccessful thus far. Issues of truancy, socially inappropriate behavior, poor organizational skills, and lack of work production or even specific learning disabilities are common problems that have been identified in the student's previous school history.

The most critical attribute of a student attending The Learning House is his/her own desire to attend. The first choice offered to students at The Learning House is whether or not to make the commitment to attend and participate. When a student is allowed the freedom and responsibility of choice, he/she is more apt to follow through with those choices in a manner that meets his/her own needs.

Area Served

The Learning House is located in Wheeling, Illinois. Due to our location, the majority of our students come from Northern Cook and Southern Lake Counties. Students' home schools include, but are not limited to: Warren, Leyden, Lake Zurich, Evanston, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Vernon Hills, Stevenson, Deerfield, Highland Park, New Trier, Grayslake, Wauconda, Elmwood Park, Prospect, Waukegan and Grant. The Learning House believes that students should travel no more than 45 minutes to school.


Middle School Program

The Learning House – Middle School Program

Due to the ever-increasing requests we have received to serve middle school students, The Learning House is excited to announce the opening of a new and specially tailored middle school program. We have capitalized on the strengths of our high school program and made changes to better accommodate the developmental needs of middle school students.

Population Served

Our middle school is designed to serve 6th through 8th grade students who require a small, nurturing, and structured environment, provided through an accommodating program that meets their unique academic, social, and developmental needs. Our philosophy is founded on the importance of creating an atmosphere and sense of community where students develop trusting, positive relationships with school staff and peers in order to encourage school attendance and academic success. We are open to students with externalizing behaviors, internalizing behaviors and school refusal behaviors.



Our academic program consists of a mix of mastery learning and small group lessons to provide differentiated instruction tailored to each student’s individual needs. All our teaching staff are LBS1 licensed. Not only do we offer the core academic classes designed to meet Illinois Learning Standards for middle school students, but also physical education and a variety of electives (i.e., art, family and consumer sciences, computers, woodshop, etc.). Incorporated throughout the curriculum is support for students to enhance their study skills, critical thinking skills, and executive functioning skills. Remediation and related services identified in students’ IEPs (e.g., speech/language therapy) are also integrated into the student’s day as needed.

Therapeutic Services

Therapy is provided on an individual, group and family basis. Our clinicians are LCSW and/or MSW licensed and possess extensive experience in both residential and day school settings. Groups consist of a variety of psychoeducational curricula such as The Zones of Regulation, social skills, decision making skills, and somatic therapy (i.e., art, music, movement, etc). Individual counseling is provided on an as-needed basis by the student’s assigned therapist, but minimally one period a week. Family therapy is also an important part of our program in order to connect progress at school to the home environment.

Family Support

Promoting an emphasis on collaborative problem solving, parent groups and parent education are offered in addition to family therapy. Parents are accorded guidance as a community through monthly parent support groups and parent teacher organization meetings. Additionally, community-wide celebrations at the end of each semester as well as an annual Open House and Parent-Teacher-Student Conference are conducted for parents to become more familiar with all staff and make stronger connections to the school.

What makes The Learning House the place to go?

We have 25+ years of experience in the field of special education with a proven track record of facilitating our 8th through 12th grade students to successfully transition back to their home schools and/or graduate. When appropriate, we will provide supported attendance services to assist students in attending school. We also offer a smooth transition from middle school to high school through our high school program, which can also provide a positive peer support for middle school students. Focusing on teamwork and sportsmanship, we implement an athletic program for students through the Chicago Area Alternative Education League (CAAEL) in addition to a variety of other extracurricular activities and clubs. Furthermore, our amazing extended school year program not only provides remediation that focuses on each student’s challenges, but incorporates an experiential outdoor educational component to further encourage students to set SMART goals, step out of their comfort zones in a positive risk-taking stance, and develop increasing self-esteem and self confidence.


The Learning House is accredited by AdvancED and is an ISBE approved nonpublic school.


Since 1992 

The Learning House has served hundreds of students who have little or no hope of being successful in their public high schools. During this time, with your financial help and the financial help of many people like you, we have assisted a majority of those students in graduating from high school or being ready to return to their public school. These students have gained insight into themselves as students, as responsible members of their families, and as contributing citizens to their communities.


Here are just a few examples of what The Learning House Foundation is responsible for:

- The Guy Schachar Memorial College Scholarship Fund
- Attendance bonuses related to the vocational programming at TLH
- Behavior bonuses related to the therapeutic programming at TLH
- Funding of the Summer Experiential Learning Component available to every TLH student
- Purchase of eyeglasses, hearing aids or medical expenses for those qualifying students

Financial Contributions to The Learning House Foundation go directly towards enhancement programs established by the Foundation Board as well as The Learning House Advisory Board. Absolutely 100% of donations go towards programs designed to help our students meet their goals and prepare to become responsible, productive members of our community.

As you can see, our goals are many and our standards are high. We appreciate your continued support of The Learning House and our students. In order to succeed, we must all pitch in. Your contributions are important!

The Learning House Foundation is an Illinois not-for-profit Corporation and has been granted 501(c)(3) foundation status by the Internal Revenue Service. Contributions are tax deductible.

To make a tax deductible donation, please contact an administrator of The Learning House today!


Current Events that benefit the foundation

Summer CD

At the end of every summer, parents and students frequently ask for copies of the pictures we have taken on our summer trips. However, the number of pictures is literally in the thousands. With the high number of requests, we have created the Learning House Summer Picture CD. This CD contains ALL of the summer trip pictures and is available for only $10.00 with all proceeds benefiting the Foundation. If you would like to purchase a CD, please contact Kevin Barmantje.

Box Tops for Education

Do you love peeling labels off of soup cans and cutting apart tissue and/or cereal boxes? Then we have the ongoing fundraiser for you! Bring us your "Box Tops" or "Labels for Education" proof of purchases found on many household items, and we can turn those little pieces of cardboard into cash for the school. A list of eligible items can be found online, or you can pick one up from Kevin the next time you are in. If you have any questions please contact Kevin Barmantje.

Ink Cartridges/ Empties for Cash

The Learning House is proud to offer the service of ink cartridge disposal. Once your printer ink cartridges or toner cartridges run out, we are able to collect, wrap and send them in for cash. We are able to take donations of any kind of ink cartridge, including laser jet, ink jet, and toner. If you have questions regarding types of cartridges, etc., please contact Laura Benson.


The Learning House

5110 Capitol Drive • Wheeling, IL 60090
Phone: 847-459-8330 • Fax: 847-459-8342

Questions? Comments? More Information?

mail22b.pngContact Us Here

The Learning House staff can also be contacted by either calling the general phone number or accessing the information on our Staff Page