State Law: Illinois

Illinois compulsory school attendance age

When your child has his or her 6th birthday, you must start obeying the compulsory attendance law. You are exempt from the law once your child turns 17, or graduates from his or her high school program.

HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Illinois law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.

Withdrawing your child from his or her current school

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Illinois available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.

Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.

Complying with Illinois’s homeschool law

In Illinois, your homeschool will be treated as a private school. You do not have to register your home-based private school with the Illinois State Board of Education, nor are you required to obtain state recognition of your home-based private school. In fact, you cannot get your private school registered or recognized—the law does not allow it.

To homeschool as a private school, you’ll need to follow these guidelines:

1. Teach the required subjects. 

Illinois requires you to provide an “adequate course of instruction” to your child covering the following branches of education:

  • Language arts,
  • Math,
  • Biological and physical sciences,
  • Social sciences,
  • Fine arts, and
  • Physical development and health.

The State Board of Education treats biological and physical science as one combined branch of instruction, and physical development and health as another combined branch.

2. Instruction must be in English. 

When you teach your child in your homeschool, you must do so in English.

3. Know what to call your homeschool program. 

HSLDA recommends that you call your homeschool a private school when you deal with government officials.

Important exception: You should identify your program as a homeschool if you are filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as part of your child’s college financial aid paperwork.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find Illinois’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.

These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.