Illinois is a diverse state with much to offer. From Chicago's bustling windy city to the wide open spaces of the Prairie State's south, the Land of Lincoln has something to offer everyone. Illinois is known for its vibrant music scene and art culture, while outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, canoeing, skiing, and more.
When it comes to homeschooling in Illinois, the laws are simple and easy to follow, but it's still important to understand them before you begin. Each state has its own set of homeschooling laws so homeschooling in Illinois is different than homeschooling in NY! There are also other challenges to consider beyond legal requirements when deciding to homeschool.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to help families get started with homeschooling. In this post, we'll go through everything you need to know about homeschooling in Illinois.
Here we go...
Illinois Homeschooling Laws
Illinois' homeschool requirements are some of the simplest in the country. There is only one option for homeschooling in Illinois - Homeschooling under the private school statute. This option has three requirements.
Teach the required subjects
Instruction must be in English
Know what to call your homeschool program.
There is no requirement for notifying your local school district that you plan to homeschool, although it's a good idea if your child is currently enrolled in order to avoid truancy issues.
The required subjects for homeschooling in Illinois are language arts, math, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health. The Illinois state board of education considers biological and physical sciences as one branch of instruction, and physical development and health as another combined branch.
What to Call Your Homeschool Program
When referring to your homeschool in dealing with government officials, you should use the term "private school." However, when filling out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) paperwork as part of your child's college financial aid paperwork, you should identify your program as a "homeschool."
For further information regarding Illinois homeschool laws, explore the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
Benefits of Homeschooling in Illinois
Homeschooling has many benefits for families, including increased flexibility and control over the curriculum. Parents can choose how their children learn best by tailoring lessons to their individual learning styles and interests. With homeschooling, parents can also decide when their children will receive instruction, allowing for more flexible scheduling that can accommodate family vacations, extracurricular activities, and other activities, such as doctor appointments.
Additionally, homeschooling in Illinois allows parents to provide their children with a richer educational experience than they might receive at traditional public schools or private schools. For example, families can incorporate hands-on learning experiences like field trips or visits to museums into the curriculum, as well as explore topics in greater depth.
Finally, homeschooling in Illinois can offer families an opportunity to develop deeper bonds and create a closer relationship between parent and child. While homeschooling is certainly not for everyone, it can be a great choice for those looking to customize their children's education or stay more connected with their family.
Resources to Get Started Homeschooling in Illinois
When beginning the homeschooling journey in Illinois, there are many resources available to help parents and families get started. The first step is to decide what kind of homeschool curriculum or program or you want to use or create: will it be traditional, virtual/online, or a combination of both?
There are many exceptional homeschool programs to choose from. You can find a list of our favorite programs in our post of the Top 10 Homeschool Programs.
Once you determine what kind of program works best for you and your family, there are several resources to help get you started. HomeschoolinginIllinois.com is a wonderful site with tons of information and extra resources for Illinois residents who begin homeschooling.
There are also Homeschool associations you can join which can offer resources and valuable advice, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They provide legal advice and access to members-only benefits such as discounts on curriculum and other services.
The Illinois Christian Home Educators group is another wonderful resource for faith-based support. They offer free resources, events, and co-ops for homeschool families in Illinois.
By exploring the resources and opportunities for support in the homeschooling community, new homeschoolers can get off to a great start. Illinois homeschool groups offer families the chance to support each other through challenges, give their children opportunities like co-ops and group field trips, and help parents learn together and from each other's experiences.
Getting started with homeschooling doesn't have to feel like climbing Mount Everest. Especially in Illinois.
Learn Illinois homeschool law, follow it, find the right resources and support groups for you and your family, and get started.
Keep in mind homeschooling is a journey. There will be bumps in the road and you might have to make course corrections (like switching curricula or programs if the first one doesn't quite work out). But that's ok!
Learning alongside your child is worth every step, every challenge, every lesson. You got this!
Frequently Asked Questions about Homeschooling in Illinois
Does Illinois require proof of homeschooling?
Although Illinois doesn't require parents to submit records or evaluations annually, homeschooling families should still keep organized records. Doing so will not only benefit your ability to track your child's progress but will help long-term to support your child's goals toward applying to colleges or other post-graduation programs.
How much does it cost to homeschool in Illinois?
Homeschool in Illinois averages a cost between $500 and $2,500 per year per student. This is significantly less than the average private school tuition of $8,658.
How many hours are required for a homeschool in Illinois?
Illinois law doesn't have an hourly requirement for homeschooling. It simply requires parents to provide an "adequate course of instruction" in the required subjects.
What are the disadvantages of homeschooling?
Homeschooling has its own challenges. Some of the most commonly mentioned are:
Requires a LOT of commitment, organization, and dedication (from everyone)
Can be more costly than public school
Children (and parents) miss out on milestones (like school dances and high school graduation)
How do homeschoolers get a diploma in Illinois?
While Illinois doesn't offer a high school diploma to homeschoolers, parents can create their own when their child completes their program. Also, many online homeschool programs, especially those that are accredited, offer diplomas upon graduation.
Is homeschooling better for mental health?
Studies have shown homeschool students display better mental health than students from traditional schools. They tend to be more confident, less anxious, and show greater emotional intelligence than their peers.