Are you considering homeschooling your child? You can do it! As you get started, it’s important to make sure you comply with the education laws where you live. This page helps you understand how to homeschool legally—step by step.

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.

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 are also eligible to use the sample letter of withdrawal for their state, available in Member Resources, to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “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 your state’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:

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.

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

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.


If your state has any specific recordkeeping requirements, they are listed above. Regardless of your state’s recordkeeping requirements, 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.

Home School Legal Defense Association is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. We are dedicated to protecting the legality of your homeschool while equipping you to successfully teach your children.

HSLDA members have 24/7 phone and email access to our staff of attorneys and legal assistants, who can help you understand the homeschool law in your state and will go to bat for you if a school official or other authority challenges your homeschool. Our 80,000 members—families like you!— also receive personalized advice on everything from homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with special needs from our team of education consultants.

Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.

Last updated July 14, 2015