Homeschooling in Illinois
Homeschooling In Illinois is an amazing opportunity for your family. Illinois is a great state in which to home school! I have been homeschooling for 17 years now and we have always lived in Illinois. Over the years, we have seen support groups come and go, slight changes to the law (the compulsory school age is now 6-17 after being 7-16 for decades), and an increase in structured one-day-school programs. But, one thing stays the same—the freedom to teach our children according to our family values. We enjoy these benefits of homeschooling and love helping others make the leap.
Before you get started, it’s a good thing to know what the state requires of you. In Illinois, each homeschool family in Illinois is considered a private school and is not required to register with any state education office or submit to standardized testing. Every school, including home schools, is required to teach children ages 6 to 17 in the same branches of education as are taught to their peers in the state public schools. This includes high school.
The burden of proof, however, falls to you if someone doesn’t believe you are really homeschooling. It’s a good idea to keep some records of what you’re doing each year, just in case. This can be as simple as keeping samples or photos of your child’s work and a book list. For more information about this, check out Illinois law on homeschooling.
A great place to learn more about homeschooling methods and philosophies, talk to speakers and curriculum providers, and find great deals is at a conference. The conferences below are all faith-based and to be honest, most homeschool conferences are faith-based. There used to be a popular secular conference—INHOME Conference—organized by a committee of folks from Chicago-area H.O.U.S.E. members. However, that conference morphed into an unschooling conference that is now held in southern Wisconsin. These are the currently active conferences held each year throughout Illinois.
The best thing I ever did when I first started homeschooling was join a local support group. Learning from online sources helps and Facebook groups are nice, but nothing compares to face-to-face connection. We have participated in both support groups and homeschool co-ops. Both seem to come and go. Check the links below to see if the group is currently active and determine whether it will serve your needs. Co-ops are much more parent-intensive than a mere support group. Both support groups and co-ops have provided for me a much-needed community of friends, encouragement and advice, and a wealth of knowledge and resources. Connecting with other homeschooling families introduced my family to new interests and helped me discover community classes. If there is no city listed, it is in the Chicago area or it is statewide.
Decatur Area Homeschool Network(yahoo group)
Many Rivers Unschoolers (Joliet area)(yahoo group)
Peoria Area Homeschoolers(yahoo group)
Prairie Homeschool Collective (Chicago area, non-sectarian)(closed Facebook group. No website)
ICHE has a list of groups, although some of them do not include contact information.
Also, check with your local library and area churches as many homeschool support groups meet in these places. Many do not have websites, although they may have a closed Facebook or Yahoo group.
These listings generally offer support and cooperative classes.
Christians United for Better Schooling (CUBS) (closed Facebook group. No website)
Classical Conversations (enter your town or zip code to find a community in your area. 36 communities in the Chicago area alone!)
Joy in Learning (Champaign)
Tri-Cities Enrichment Co-op (Aurora)
Over the years, we have taken full advantage of living in the Chicago area. The following are additional resources I am aware of that are either specifically for homeschoolers or can be used by us.
Johnsburg Homeschool Resource Center at the Johnsburg Library
Christian Liberty Used Book Sale every spring (Arlington Heights)
Field Museum Harris Learning Collection: For a fee, you can borrow exhibit cases and experience boxes for up to 3 weeks. These are great supplements or springboards for new interests.
Museum of Science and Industry Homeschool Learning Labs: Hands-on science programs for homeschoolers!
Maestro Heights – Gail Masinda is an online piano teacher
Forest Preserve District—Will and DuPage Counties. These are intermittent and sometimes need to be organized by a group of homeschoolers.
YMCA Homeschool Gym and Swim. Several Chicago-area YMCAs offer this program.
To find additional resources, local classes, and other opportunities in your area, be sure to connect with other homeschoolers through a support group or co-op. I hope you found this little guide helpful to you in getting started on your new adventure!
Need information on another state? Learn more about other states in the Homeschooling In All 50 States
Julie Polanco is a 17-year homeschooling veteran mom of four. Two down and two to go! She is a popular conference speaker and an instructor at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Julie is also the author of two books—God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn and 100 Ways to Motivate Kids—and she blogs at www.julienaturally.com. Visit her website to receive a copy of “A Complete Guide to Christian Unschooling.”