Homeschooling in Illinois – What you need to know

Monday, July 1, 2013

Homeschooling in Illinois – What you need to know

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Calling all Illinois Homeschoolers! Whether you are a homeschooling veteran or just beginning, I've got lots of resources, tips, and advice for you as you Homeschool in the Land of Lincoln!

Illinois is in the Midwest which means you can get just about anywhere on a field trip relatively easily, you have four distinct seasons to enjoy, it was the homes of one of our countries most famous Presidents {Abraham Lincoln}, and it is still wonderfully unregulated for homeschoolers. Homeschooling in Illinois - laws you need to know

Homeschooling Laws in Illinois

Illinois homeschoolers are truly blessed to have so much freedom in home educating. Only 9 other states can boost such low regulations and oversight.

Illinois homeschooler are considered private educatorsHomeschooling in Illinois - laws you need to know

Homeschooling in Illinois is considered to be a form of private education. Parents are under a legal obligation to meet the minimum requirements stated in Illinois’ Compulsory Attendance Law (Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code). Every school in Illinois (including home schools) are obligated to teach children “…the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools.” All schools are obligated to offer instruction of core subjects in English. The “branches of education” include language arts, mathematics, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health.

Highlights from Illinois School Code Section 26-1

  • Children age 7* to 17 (unless high school graduates) must attend school.
*Bill SB2762 has been introduced to lower the mandatory age for school attendance in Illinois from 7 to 6 years-of-age.
  • Although there is no exact number of hours or days required of homeschoolers, the law states that home educated students must receive an education least equivalent to public schooling. With that in mind, homeschoolers should be aware that the Illinois State Board of Education states that public school students must spend 176 days a year in attendance. Instructional days must include 5 instructional hours *including the first and last days of school.

*beginning June 30, 2013 due to legislation SB2850. A calendar half day may be scheduled provided at least 3 hours of instruction have been met.

What Curriculum Should I use

Parents in Illinois are free to decide the manner, time and materials which best suit the learning needs of their children. Parents of high school students may determine when their student has met the graduation requirements of their private home school and are entitled to receive a high school diploma.

High School Diplomas are not issued from the public schools. Each school (including private home schools) issues their own diploma.

How do I prove we are Home Educating?

Homeschooling in Illinois - laws you need to knowYou do not need to register. In fact many homeschooling groups encourage you NOT to register as a way to cut down on government oversight of homeschoolers. Although bills have been introduced to attempt to further regulate home educators in Illinois, so far they have failed due to a large outcry from the active homeschooling community.
If you decide to register in Illinois you can fill out this form

The federal district court made a decision in 1974 that stated that under Illinois law, the burden of proof rests with parents to prove their home educating plan meets state requirements.

So what does that mean? It means if a truancy officer ever shows up at your door {and here is what you should do according to Illinois H.O.U.S.E. if they do} you must be able to prove that you are educating your children. You can grab some handy, customizable attendance records and other homeschool forms at 123 Homeschool 4 Me.

Testing Requirements in Illinois

There are no testing requirements in Illinois. If you choose to test to measure your student’s academic progress you do not need to submit the results. You can order standardized tests from BJU Press.

Withdrawing a Student from Public School

If your child is in public school and you are choosing to withdraw them, you should send a letter to the Principal stating you will be withdrawing your student to place him/her in a private school. A customizable letter is included in the Homeschooling Forms to help you get organized pack.
By sending a withdraw letter to indicate where your student will be getting his or her education, it is less likely that the school will report your student to county officials as truant after a prolonged absence.

Homeschooled Students and Public School Classes

 Homeschooling in Illinois - laws you need to knowHome educated students may attend their local public school part-time under School Code (Section 10-20.24) if there is space at the school, you submitted a request by May of the previous year, and the course is part of the school’s regular curriculum.

School districts must provide eligible non-public high school students access to driver’s education. School Code (Sections 27-24.2 and 27-24.4):

Public schools have no obligation to make extracurricular activities, including athletics, open to students attending private schools. Some intramural sports organizations have specific bylaws with limitations for home-schooled students who want to participate in interscholastic athletics. See the list of Homeschooling Resources for other options.

Re-enrolling in Illinois Public Schools

If you would like to re-enroll your student in public school after a period of homeschooling or other private schooling your local public school will determine grade placement for the student based on an evaluation of his/her work. Because of the variety of curriculum available in Illinois, public schools may prefer to give your student a grade placement instead of assigning individual course credits.
A home educated student may return for the 12th grade and graduate if the public school determines the combination of credits for work done meets state graduation requirements.

How do Colleges evaluate home schooled high school diplomas?

Many colleges and universities have procedures and experience admitting home-schooled students. Homeschooled students are usually self motivated and bright and have no trouble getting into college. The college admittance process, however, does take a little longer. Make sure you begin researching what documentation is recommended and required before you child enters high school. As an example here is homeschool admissions information from the University of Illinois:

Illinois Educational Expense Credit

Home Educating can get expensive. Although there are no official scholarship or aid programs, Illinois does offer an Educational Expense Credit on your state taxes.

Keeping Current on Homeschooling Laws

Although I have made every effort in ensuring the accuracy of the above information, laws do change. Even at the time of writing this the compulsory attendance age is before the house. It is important to stay current on homeschooling laws in Illinois. 
I encourage you to sign up for email alerts from Illinois Family Institute (or another organization of your choosing) for updates on legislation. And please make sure to vote and contact your representative if there are bills before the house you don’t agree with. Illinois has low regulation on homeschoolers right now, but that could change quickly if we don’t preserve our freedoms! 
If you have questions or need legal advice the HSLDA is a known name to homeschoolers. Their website has a lot of great information for homeschoolers. If you are interested you can join for $120 and have their full court representation in the case that anything ever came up. {I am not paid or affiliated with them, just wanted to make you aware of the option}

Disclaimer: The above information is not intended as legal advice.

Additional Resources

Homeschooling in Illinois Button_thumb[2]

Homeschooling in Illinois: Laws you Need to Know
Homeschooling in Illinois: 100+ Fieldtrip & Enrichment Ideas
Homeschooling in Illinois: Getting Connected with Support Groups
Homeschooling in Illinois: Go here for Homeschooling Supplies

1 comment:

  1. HI Beth,
    Thank you very much for all the info!! I homeschool my little one and you cover more info than what I already had! Thanks!!!