Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Illinois State Board of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Illinois? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Illinois homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Illinois homeschool requirements to get you started:
Illinois Homeschool Law
According to Illinois Public Act 093-0858, “Whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years (unless the child has already graduated from high school) shall cause such child to attend some public school in the district wherein the child resides the entire time it is in session during the regular school term.” Children attending a private school are one exception, and your homeschool is considered a private school.
The only homeschool requirement in Illinois is related to the subject areas that need to be taught. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, “Graduation requirements, homework, testing, grade advancement, textbook/curriculum choice, recordkeeping, etc. are all decisions that the homeschool parent or guardian will make.” Also, although a consistent schedule is recommended, “there are no requirements for the number of school days or the length of a school day for homeschool students. Classes can occur any day of the week and at any time during the day.”
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
In Illinois, there are no required qualifications for you to homeschool your child.
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Registration for homeschooling is optional but may help you avoid confusion and truancy issues. There is a voluntary Homeschooling Registration Form, which can serve as notice to a school district, Regional Office of Education, or truant officer that your child is registered as a homeschool student. You may also choose to write a letter to the school notifying the school of your intent to homeschool, and the school may have a withdrawal form that needs to be signed. Basically, regardless of method, you need to let your child’s school know that your child will not be attending, so that your child is not reported missing or truant.
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
You may enroll your homeschooler in online schools that can handle all or most of the responsibilities associated with homeschooling. Remember, however, that “online schools may require a student to take certain classes. Those classes, which may or may not be the same as the public school graduation requirements in Illinois, are determined by each individual online school. It is a good idea to ask an administrator at the online school how its required courses align with college enrollment requirements.” Further, these online schools do have a cost.
Here is another option: “Homeschool students may supplement their education program by taking some courses (for a fee) through the Illinois Virtual School (IVS). […] Please note that the Illinois Virtual School does not issue credit, advance students to the next grade, or offer diplomas. The work completed through IVS may or may not be accepted by any future school your child enrolls in — this decision will be made by the enrolling school.”
Also, per 105 ILCS 5/10-20.24, students may attend their local public school part time under the following conditions:
- The request was made by May 1 of the previous school year.
- There is enough space available in the school.
- The child lives within the attendance zone of the school.
The Illinois State Board of Education does provide a list of homeschool resources but “does not provide recommendations or review homeschool programs.”
Illinois Homeschool Requirements
Even though Illinois does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Illinois homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 7.
- Withdraw your child from the current school, register your child as a homeschooler with the state, and/or write a letter of intent to homeschool and submit it to the school.
- Teach the required subjects: “Per 105 ILCS 5/26-1 and 27-1, you must provide instruction, in the English language, in the following subject areas: Language arts, Mathematics, Biological and physical science, Social science (social studies), Fine arts, Physical development and health.” As a homeschooler, you are not required to offer specific classes. However, the Illinois State Board of Education recommends that you use the same graduation requirements used in public schools if your homeschooler is planning on attending college. The Illinois Common Core Learning Standards are also available for review as you plan your homeschool.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
No! According to the Illinois State Board of Education, “You are not required to administer or submit tests, homework, projects, grades, or any other materials to a school, district, or ISBE. Any assessments you choose to administer will not be reviewed by your local public school, district, or ISBE. Also keep in mind that homeschool students may not take the achievement test used in public schools. The Illinois Assessment of Readiness (IAR) is a diagnostic tool for measuring the quality of public education in Illinois as it relates to the learning standards set by ISBE. Homeschools may not follow the same learning standards; therefore, the IAR would not be an accurate measure of academic achievement for these students.”
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
There are no specific recordkeeping requirements; however, the Illinois State Board of Education suggests that you “keep good records of your homeschool program. If you are ever asked for proof of your child’s education (such as when re-enrolling in public school), it is your responsibility to provide documentation, such as report cards, syllabi, attendance logs, standardized test results, etc.”
In addition to the documents suggested by the Illinois State Board of Education, we also recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Other (non-standardized) test scores and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Illinois homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Illinois Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Illinois homeschool law and meeting Illinois homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
In most cases, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, homeschool students cannot participate in extracurricular activities and sports. One exception is driver’s education, which is available to high school homeschool students under certain conditions.
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
That is your choice, and you may even be able to enroll your child in public high school in 12th grade and receive a high school diploma. You just need to consider these points:
- “A high school may not grant credit for classes that did not come from an accredited program. Please note that ISBE does not accredit programs. We recommend you contact the school/program directly to determine if it is accredited.
- Some high school districts have strict limits on the number of credits from even an accredited online school that can be transferred in to count toward a student’s graduation.
- A child who enrolls in a public school must then meet all of the state graduation requirements in order to graduate.”
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
Because your homeschool or any online school your homeschooler may have attended may not align completely with Illinois public school graduation requirements, the Illinois State Board of Education recommends that you contact any employer, school, or organization that your child will be applying to after graduation.
See the Illinois Home Schooling page on the Illinois State Board of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Illinois.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Illinois homeschool law and Illinois homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Illinois Homeschool Groups by county.