Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Massachusetts? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Massachusetts homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Massachusetts homeschool regulations to get you started:
Massachusetts Homeschool Law
According to Massachusetts General Laws chapter 76 § 1, compulsory school attendance is required for all children aged 6 to 16. The law provides “an exception from mandatory school attendance for ‘a child who is being otherwise instructed in a manner approved in advance by the superintendent or the school committee.’”
“Home schooling requires advance approval by the district in which the child lives, under the policy that the school committee has adopted. Home schooling is provided by or at the direction of a child’s parent, instead of enrolling the child in a public or private school; home schooling is not remote learning provided by a school district. The requirements that apply to public schools, such as educator licensing or structured learning time, do not apply to home schooling” (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).
“Each school committee in Massachusetts has a policy on approval of homeschooling plans; details are available from the school district. The school district approves and provides oversight of homeschooling, with a focus on whether ‘instruction in all the studies required by law equals in thoroughness and efficiency, and in the progress made therein, that in the public schools in the same town’ (General Laws chapter 76 § 1).” (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
There is no required certification for you to homeschool your child. However, the superintendent or school committee may inquire as to academic or other qualifications to ensure that the teacher is “of competent ability and good morals,” as stated in General Laws chapter 71 § 1 (Care and Protection of Charles, 399 Mass. 324 (1987)).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! “Parents planning to educate their child at home must notify (preferably in writing) the district in which they live as the first step in the approval process. Notification alone does not authorize a parent to begin homeschooling. Removing a child of compulsory school age from school without an approved homeschooling plan would cause the child to become truant.
Once the school district receives a parent’s notification that they wish to educate their child at home, the district must provide the parent with the district’s policy and process for approval of homeschooling and ask the parent to submit the proposed homeschooling plan. If the parent’s notification includes the proposed plan, the district should still provide the parent with its policy and process for approval of homeschooling plans and then proceed with its review of the proposed homeschooling plan.
Upon receipt of a proposed homeschooling plan, the school district evaluates it and then either approves it, requests modification or additional information, or disapproves the proposed plan. Districts typically review a proposed homeschooling plan for the content, instructional materials, duration and frequency of instruction, methods of instruction, evaluation, and whether it enables the child to make adequate progress in the areas that Massachusetts identifies as essential. The school district must communicate its decision to the parent, preferably in writing, within a reasonable period after receipt of the parent’s homeschooling plan” (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, “Each school district may establish its own policy on whether to allow homeschooled students to participate in its programs. While not required, school districts have the discretion to allow homeschooled students to join district-provided courses, programs, or extracurricular activities, including athletics. This is a local decision.”
Massachusetts Homeschool Requirements
Massachusetts can be considered a highly regulated state for homeschooling, so there are some Massachusetts homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- Notify the school district of your intent to begin homeschooling.
- Submit your homeschooling plan to the district for review and approval.
- Provide “instruction and training in orthography, reading, writing, the English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, the history and constitution of the United States, the duties of citizenship, health education, physical education and good behavior” (Care and Protection of Charles, 399 Mass. 324 (1987)).
- Provide instruction for hours comparable to the 180-day minimum required for public schools (Care and Protection of Charles, 399 Mass. 324 (1987)).
- Follow all Massachusetts homeschool regulations, based on information provided by your local school district.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
Some school district superintendents or school committees may require standardized testing or other evaluation methods that can be substituted for formal testing (e.g., progress reports, work samples). You will arrange with your local school district what evidence is required to demonstrate student progress.
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
While there may not be specific records that are legally required, we recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
Contact your local school district for more information on Massachusetts homeschool requirements.
Other Massachusetts Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Massachusetts homeschool law and meeting Massachusetts homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
As with attending public school courses and programs, school districts have discretion as to whether to allow homeschooled students to participate in extracurricular activities, including athletics. Contact your local school district to inquire.
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
If you want to re-enroll your child in public school after homeschooling, or if you stop homeschooling for any reason, you need to notify your local school district. The school where you will enroll your child will determine the grade-level placement of your child, commonly through testing.
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
Massachusetts does not issue high school diplomas for homeschool students. When planning for after high school, you may want to explore options for high school equivalency (HSE) testing in Massachusetts, and you may want to inquire with any postsecondary schools or organizations regarding admissions requirements.
See the Home Schooling page on the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Massachusetts.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Massachusetts homeschool law and Massachusetts homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Massachusetts Homeschool Groups by county.