From the Editors
Thinking of homeschooling your child? You’re not alone.
There are hundreds of families in the Champaign-Urbana area who choose to homeschool and many more who have or are currently thinking about doing it.
There are many things to consider when making the decision to homeschool- from a legal standpoint to curriculum. And there’s a ton of information out there as well. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide that includes local as well as state resources on homeschooling in the Champaign-Urbana area. We hope it helps you find the information you need to begin your homeschooling journey!
So many people homeschool these days- it has to be legal, right? Yes, homeschooling is most definitely legal in Illinois.
Home-schooling in Illinois is considered to be a form of private education. Parents who choose to educate their children at home are under a legal obligation to meet the minimum requirements stated in Illinois’ Compulsory Attendance Law (Section 26-1 of the Illinois School Code).
Section 26-1 states, “Any child attending a private or parochial school where children are taught the branches of education, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language” is in compliance with the Illinois compulsory attendance law.”
The “branches of education” include language arts; mathematics; biological and physical sciences; social sciences; fine arts; and physical development and health.
Children who are homeschooled are, according to the law, required to master the same core educational material that students who attend school are exposed to. However, there is no “curriculum” that homeschooled students are required to follow, no set amount of time they are required to prove they spent learning, and they do not have to pass any tests.
You do not need to notify the state of your intention to homeschool. However, the Illinois State Board of Education has published a form you can use to notify your regional office of education of your decision to homeschool your child, if you wish. They also strongly recommend sending a letter to your children’s school letting them know you’re withdrawing your child for the purpose of homeschooling.
ISBEs FAQ page regarding homeschooling in Illinois has a lot of good information on such topics as sending your children to school part-time, special education services, participation in athletics and driver’s ed. through your local school, and graduation.
Once you’ve made the decision to homeschool, the first step will probably be finding an appropriate curriculum for your children. You can research educational material online, talk to fellow homeschooling families, or reach out to one of the many local homeschool groups in the area (see below). In any case, once you find out what materials you need, you’ll definitely want to check out your local library. You may be able to borrow most of the materials rather than purchase them.
Our local libraries, especially the Big Two–the Champaign and Urbana public libraries– are good places to check out a variety of educational materials. The Champaign Library has a great webpage devoted to homeschooling in specific.
Local homeschool groups and co-ops
There are several local homeschool groups and c0-ops in the Champaign-Urbana area. Getting plugged into one or more of these groups is a great way to learn more about the homeschooling process and meet families with similar interests.
Champaign County H.O.U.S.E. is a local group open to all homeschooling families, regardless of you-name-it. Champaign County HOUSE (Home Oriented Unique Schooling Experience), a chapter of Illinois State H.O.U.S.E., actively supports homeschoolers in Central Illinois. More information about Champaign County H.O.U.S.E. is also on Facebook.
Christian Homeschool Connection (CHC) is a network that exists to support Christian homeschool families in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities. Members number over one hundred families with a wide variety of homeschooling styles. Their main purpose is to build community among homeschooling families, enable support to each other through field trips and social activities, facilitate contact between new and veteran homeschoolers, and provide a forum for the exchange of teaching techniques and curriculum ideas.
Champaign County Homeschoolers describes the group as “For all area home schoolers, and the people who support them, to share thoughts and ideas. Not affiliated with any particular home school support group.”
Joy in Learning Academy was founded in 2009 in order to create an academically-focused, college preparatory, and nonsectarian learning environment for homeschooling families in the Champaign-Urbana area. Check out their website to find more information about what they do and how they work.
Classical Conversations supports homeschooling parents by cultivating the love of learning through a Christian worldview in fellowship with other families. There are several communities in the area including Mahomet, Champaign, and Urbana.
Horizon Homeschool Cooperative provides an opportunity for Christian homeschooling families to partner together to create a cooperative teaching and learning environment for grades kindergarten through sixth grade. Classes are held at New Horizon Church in Champaign. The group is currently full for the 2017-18 school year.
Many organizations in the area, such as I-Power, Champaign Gymnastics Academy, and the Champaign County YMCA offer classes during the day to accommodate homeschool families. Go to the organization’s websites to find schedules and more information.
Field trips, school supplies, and more
Previously, we published a two-part series covering local homeschooling resources A-Z. Part one includes information on discounts for home educators, area resources, and other relevant tidbits. Part two has information about shopping locally for school supplies and area museums and zoos, among other things. Both pages should help get your creative juices flowing when it comes to rounding out your homeschooling experience.
Hmm…What have we forgotten? Add your suggestion for a good local homeschooling resource in the comments!
Rachael McMillan contributed to this article.