Illinois cautions against homeschooling and homeschool participation is low compared to the rest of the country.

History

Illinois is in the midwestern United States. The state’s legalization of homeschooling followed the 1950 ruling in the People v. Levisen case. Despite the early legalization of homeschooling, Illinois offers prospective homeschoolers cautionary recommendations to “exhaust all options with the local public schools” before considering homeschooling.

Regulation

There are few specific requirements of homeschooling families when it comes to homeschooling children, ages 6 to 17. Illinois does require teaching certain subjects and recommends notification to the school, in writing, of the intent to homeschool. The state does not require minimum education qualifications for teaching, attendance reporting (number of school days or instructional hours), or testing.

Illinois has a statute to govern nonpublic school student (including homeschooled students) access to public school offerings. Specifically, all nonpublic school students have access to courses provided at public schools, but they do not have access to extracurriculars. Further, none of the access appears to be publicly funded. Thus, the lack of funding likely creates a barrier for many families. Access to special education services is also limited.

State Data

While Illinois offers a voluntary form for homeschool participation, it does not require homeschool families to report to the state. Therefore, the state does not report homeschool participation. We have limited information about likely homeschool participation in the state. U.S. Census estimates indicate that around 2% of Illinois families homeschooled in the spring of 2020, and this increased to 5% by the fall of 2020. These numbers fall below the average for that period. During the 2022 and 2023 school years, the U.S. Census found an average of 3.2% of Illinois K-12 students were homeschooled.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

We cannot calculate a cross-sector comparison because we lack information on homeschool participation.

School Choice Context

There are several school choice options, in addition to homeschooling, in Illinois. These include traditional public, charter, two private school choice programs, and virtual online schools. Interdistrict choice is not allowed, and intradistrict choice is limited. Homeschool families do qualify for a state tax credit for educational expenses.

Commentary

Restricting access to public school extracurricular offerings creates barriers for homeschool students and is not on-trend with the regulations in most of the country. While Illinois offers good access to courses, the state could expand this to sports and other extracurricular activities. Additionally, the state could publicly fund these activities to further remove barriers for students and families.

Last updated December 2023.