There could be many reasons why a parent would decide to homeschool their child, but choosing to do so is the most challenging decision. It is essential to know exactly what needs to be done to adopt homeschooling in your particular state.
To homeschool in Illinois, you must first inform the school in writing of the student’s withdrawal and submit a voluntary form to the Illinois State Board of Education related to homeschooling. Next, you must choose the curriculum, including all mandated subjects, and start teaching.
At first, homeschooling was carried out in rural areas due to the difficulty of taking the children to school every day. Even though there are currently many reasons why someone might decide to homeschool or not, finding out the requirements for any state can tip the scale in the right direction.
Once the decision to go with homeschooling has been made, choosing the best option is the most crucial part of the plan. You can either go with an online homeschooling program or, as a parent, decide to tackle it yourself. Some examples of online homeschooling programs available for the state of Illinois are shown below, but keep in mind that any accreditation status would have to be confirmed with the school of your choosing.
Since a home school is considered private education, the state of Illinois authorizes any person who is competent to teach the school subjects to their children in a home environment. So the instructor, or in this case the parent, must cover the following subjects as it is mandatory:
- Language arts (listening, speaking, writing, reading)
- Biological and physical science
- Social sciences
- Fine arts
- Physical development and health
Any additional subjects added to the curriculum are optional.
For a project to succeed, planning is required; homeschooling shouldn’t be the exception. Some of the things that any parent should consider before starting this phase are the following:
- Establishing a place in the home where classes can take place is essential. Assigning a specific location for this and only this can provide control over the time spent learning. Even though the area doesn’t need to look like a classroom, things like a desk and a proper chair will be required for better performance. It’s best to avoid public rooms to minimize distractions. The same goes for clutter; try to have only what’s necessary for the class, and everything else should be kept separate.
- Setting up a schedule. Having a plan will help both the parent and the child. Parents have found that a couple of hours, 3 or 4 days a week, is enough to cover the curriculum. Unlike at school, where 6 or 7 hours are required every day, 3 to 4 hours may suffice at home. In a way, it makes sense since the focus would be on one or two children at a time; less distraction and more time to concentrate on tasks.
- Homeschooling varies on cost. An online homeschooling school may have a monthly fee, but the cost would depend on the materials or resources required for the classes if done by the parents.
The state of Illinois requires some things to be followed under the law:
- Teach the required subjects.
- Teach in English.
- Refer to the homeschool as a private school when dealing with government officials.
- Identify your program as a homeschool if filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as part of financial aid paperwork for college.
- Notify the child’s school in writing of a withdrawal request so the parent is not accused of truancy
- Submit to the Illinois State Board of Education a voluntary form related to homeschooling called 87-02 Home Schooling Registration School Year form.
When referring to teaching methodologies or techniques, attending school limits the options. If the decision is to be the full-time instructor to the child, then that child’s education will be based on how they learn it. And since the state of Illinois doesn’t have a homeschool curriculum, parents can tailor their classes to the teaching model that better fits their children. Some of these models are as follow:
- The Classical Method. This method looks for children to learn based on their development stage. Children learn through three stages: grammar, then onto logic or debate, and end with the rhetoric stage.
- Charlotte Mason Method. It is a beautiful method for children in the elementary stage. It focuses on teaching for short periods along with activities along with the different learning styles.
- Montessori method. It is an excellent method, mainly because it is special-needs friendly. It provides independence, and it can start very early in childhood.
- Unschooling. It is a learning model with a lot of room for creativity. It is student-centered, and it is based, more than anything, on projects that are of interest to the student.
- School-at-Home. It may sound like homeschooling is supposed to be, but it follows the same school curriculum. But at home instead.
- Unit Studies. It is a way to study an event or object from different perspectives. By choosing one topic, the student can view it from a historical, geographical, reading, and other subjects points of view.
- Eclectic Education. It is one of the most popular as it is child-centered and avoids following a curriculum. It is also known as relaxed education.
You can either choose a homeschooling option or mix it up based on your children’s ages or learning styles. Additionally, there’s the option of supplementing the student’s education by taking courses through the Illinois Virtual School (for a cost) or enrolling part-time in the public school in their district area. Flexibility is the keyword when it comes to what’s best for your family.
Once you have all the information required to start the homeschooling process, there are other things for the parents to keep in mind that may interfere with the overall school experience for the student.
The state of Illinois doesn’t require a homeschool program to keep records of the students. Still, it is always recommended to demonstrate the education that the child is receiving. Keeping a record of attendance, list of books or materials used, samples of work, and test results if applicable.
Homeschooling in Illinois states that children with special needs or disabilities fall under the same regulations as any other homeschooled students but can also be eligible for services under the federal IDEA program and the state.
A homeschooled student cannot be part of a public school graduation ceremony unless the student has enrolled for the last year of high school and can meet all state graduation requirements. The homeschooled student can still apply for college by completing an application and submitting all required supplemental materials. Every institution would have specific requirements for homeschooled students, so accessing the college’s website would be the best way to get that information.
Taking the standard tests is not required for homeschoolers in Illinois, but it is an option available if the parents decide to measure their knowledge.
Field trips and any other extracurricular activities are not available for a homeschooled student from the state of Illinois unless it is a requirement for a class that such student is already enrolled in.
Parents will get first-hand information on homeschooling by joining a homeschool association, social media groups, or co-ops. Having a support group is vital since there are no teachers or other school staff at home to help. Some groups to look into are Arlington H.O.U.S.E. Homeschool Group, C.H.A.R.I.S. (Aurora/Sugar Grove), and Chicago Homeschool Discussion Forum.
Deciding to homeschool is the first and most challenging step to take; learning about what it’s required for your state is easy. After all of that’s done, the real work starts on the first day of classes.