Frequently Asked Questions


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  1. Application as an International Baccalaureate World School
  2. Approach to Early Childhood education
  3. Athletics
  4. Average class size and Student-Teacher Ratio
  5. Before Care and After care
  6. Curriculum Highlights
  7. Faith-based education
  8. Graduate information
  9. Special Education
  10. Standardize testing
  11. Tuition Assistance

1) International Baccalaureate World School Candidate*
   In the spring of 2015, HFCA applied for and was accepted as a Candidate* school in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Primary Years Programme. HFCA was the first school in the Chicago Archdiocese and the first known school in the northwest suburbs to be accepted. IB Certification moves our curriculum from “best practices” to “next practices.”  The IB framework provides our teachers and staff with significantly more professional development, access to IB’s online publications and teaching materials, and the opportunity to participate in worldwide forums with other IB World Schools who share HFCA’s commitment to a higher quality, challenging and global education. For more information go to

2) Please explain Holy Family Catholic Academy’s approach to early childhood education.

HFCA offers classes for two-year-old, three-year-old and four-year-old students. The goal of our Early Childhood program is to provide play-based experiences where children are encouraged to ask questions, and learn and develop age appropriate cognitive, social, emotional, linguistic and physical skills. As a Candidate* of the International Baccalaureate World School Primary Years Programme, our teachers have access to best practices in early childhood eduction from a global community of educators. Learn more about our Early Childhood Programs.

3) What are the athletic options for Holy Family Catholic Academy students?

HFCA provides a full complement of interscholastic sports for girls and boys in Grades 4 through 8 including Cross Country, Basketball, Track and Field, and Volleyball. Click to read more.

Co-curricular activities include Band, Chess, Choir, Environmental Club, Newspaper, Scouts, Student Council and Yearbook.

4) What is Holy Family Catholic Academy’s average class size and student-to-teacher ratio?

Grades Kindergarten through Grade 8 have an average class size of 21.5 students per class. HFCA’s classes average a 10:1 student-to-teacher ratio, one of the lowest among surrounding public and private schools.


5) Does Holy Family Academy provide before and after school care?

Yes. In an effort to accommodate families’ busy schedules, we provide before school care starting at 7:00am for our 3-year-old Preschool  through Grade 8 students. After-care is provided until 4:30pm for preschool and until 6:00pm for prekindergarten through Grade 8. Click for rates and preschool care options.

6) HFCA’s curriculum is focused on 21st century skills. What are these skills?

We believe our students must be prepared for their future, in high school and beyond. HFCA’s thinking curriculum develops skills and knowledge students need to succeed in work and life as they become global citizens.

HFCA has twice won the National Award for Innovations in Catholic Education for Curriculum and Instruction.

As a Candidate for authorization as an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School—Primary Years Programme, HFCA has:

  • access to IB’s research-based publications and teaching materials to enhance our curriculum,
  • the opportunity to participate in worldwide online forums with other IB practitioners, and
  • the ability to incorporate educational best practices from a range of international  frameworks and curricula.

Click here to read more.

6.1 Please explain Holy Family Catholic Academy’s approach to arts education

We believe education in the arts is essential, and contributes to the academic achievement and social and emotional development of our students. Exposure to the various arts helps develop creativity that leads to innovation. As a Candidate in the International Baccalaureate World School Primary Years Programme, we strive to develop a curriculum that is transdisciplinary, meaning that it focuses on issues that go across subject areas. Arts education is part of this transdisciplinary approach.

HFCA students participate in the following art curriculum:

Spanish Language classes—4-year-old pre-kindergarten through Grade 8
Music- twice a week from pre-kindergarten through Grade 8
Art –one hour per week.

We also offer band instruction and choir. In addition, our middle school students participate in performing arts modules at Harper College. Click here to read more.

6.2  What is differentiated instruction?

Holy Family Academy believes what parents already know–all students are not alike, and all students do not learn in the same way. Our low student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1 allows teachers to use varied instructional approaches to maximize learning. Whether your child is working below, at or above grade level, differentiated instruction allows students to be equally engaged and appropriately challenged. Click here to read more.

6.3  What is Inquiry-based learning and how is it used at HFCA?

A hallmark of Holy Family Catholic Academy’s curriculum is the use of Inquiry-based     learning. Inquiry-based learning is an active learning approach that focuses on questioning, critical thinking and problem solving. Students learn that solving “real world” problems involves the application of math, science, technology and language arts skills.

Click here to learn more.

6.4  What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for the study of science, technology, engineering and math. HFCA recognizes the significant role that STEM careers will play in the work force of the future and has enhanced our science curriculum to include more engineering concepts than found in a typical STEM program.

Our Early Childhood preschool and prekindergarten classes participate in “in-house field trips” devoted to hands-on science and our middle school curriculum is enhanced by adding 2-hour weekly “hands-on/minds-on” STEM classes. Adding the engineering component to our curriculum further increases our math and science offerings.

Click here to read about our current middle school STEM units.

6.5  Does Holy Family Catholic Academy follow Illinois Common Core State Standards?

The intent of the Illinois Common Core State Standards (“CCSS”) is to establish clear expectations for student learning at each grade level. Generally speaking, the CCSS emphasize depth over breadth of knowledge and focus on applying knowledge to real world issues. (See

Since HFCA’s founding in 2002, our curriculum has been designed with these standards in mind. Mrs. O’Brien is committed to professional development of our teachers with a goal of moving HFCA from “best practices” to “next practices.”

6.6  How is technology used at Holy Family Catholic Academy?

HFCA uses technology as a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. Student learning is enhanced as teachers routinely and transparently integrate a wide array of technology, tools, and resources into coursework. As we work to develop higher order thinking skills, we use technology not simply as a substitution for old tools, but work to use technology to redesign and redefine learning.

Our classrooms are equipped with personal computers, laptops, iPads, and interactive projectors to enhance learning.  

Read more.

7) Does HFCA welcome non-Catholic students?

Yes. While our Catholic faith is clearly part of our identity, we welcome students of all faiths.

Click to learn more about our faith-based education.

8)  How well do HFCA students do in high school and beyond?

Since HFCA is a relatively young school, we are tracking our alumnus very closely. Since our first 8th grade graduating class in 2010, Holy Family Catholic Academy has seen our graduates attend more than 15 different area Catholic and public high schools. Feedback from students, parents, school administrators and high school class placement indicates that HFCA students are prepared academically and socially for the rigors of high school, and transition easily to the high school setting.


Click to read more.

9)  Does Holy Family Catholic Academy provide special education services?

HFCA hosts Mobile Therapy Centers for speech and language therapy as a convenience to our families. Click here to read more.

Depending on the educational need, our small group instruction may provide more support than is sometimes allowed in a public school “pull-out” program.
Our Principal, Mrs. Kate O’Brien, would be happy to discuss any special education questions and/ or accommodations. Please arrange a meeting with her by calling 847-907-3452 or email her directly at

10) What standardized testing does Holy Family Catholic Academy use?

Like all Catholic schools under the Archdiocese of Chicago, Holy Family Catholic Academy administers the Aspire standardized test. In addition to Aspire, each of our students is assessed three times a year using AimsWeb. This allows teachers to track each individual student’s goals, analyze trends, and adjust curriculum to better challenge the student, or provide him/her with more instructional support.

11)  Does Holy Family Academy provide tuition assistance?

Yes, over 40% of our students receive some form of tuition assistance, including our multi-student discount. HFCA offers needs-based financial assistance to qualifying families.  We use a third-party to objectively evaluate each request and maintain the highest level of confidentiality. More at

*Candidacy is no guarantee of authorization.