Minimum Number of Days / Hours
Massachusetts requires a minimum of 180 days and 900 hours of instruction. A statement to this effect must be included in the educational plan submitted to the school district. Please note: these days and hours for homeschoolers do not have to match the public school day or year. Many homeschoolers cover the number of required days and hours in a variety of creative ways.
Ages to Begin and Stop Reporting to the Local School District
In Massachusetts, the Board of Education is delegated by the legislature to set the minimum and maximum ages of school attendance. The Board of Education, through the Department of Education Regulations, has set ages 6-16 as those required for attendance.
When to Begin Reporting?
The relevant Department of Education (DOE) regulation states: Each child must attend school beginning in September of the calendar year in which he or she attains the age of 6.
Therefore, you will need to have your homeschooling paperwork in order with the local school district before September of the calendar year in which your child turns 6.
Massachusetts is an "approval" state
The issue of approval for 6 year-olds, however, contains some gray areas which may cause confusion. The following information should help to clarify some of this confusion.
Each school district establishes a cut-off date by which a child must turn 5 in order to be eligible to enter kindergarten. By extension, the cut-off dates also tell us when a child must turn 6 in order to be eligible to enter first grade. These dates are not always in September. To view your local district's cut-off date, visit this Department of Education website, OR call your local school district for updated information. Knowing your district’s cut-off date will help you determine if your 6 year-old would be eligible for kindergarten or first grade in September of the calendar year in which he or she turns 6. This may affect what further action you may need to take beyond simply notifying the district that you will be homeschooling.
When to Stop Reporting?
The day a child turns 16, he or she is no longer bound by the compulsory attendance statutes. When developing an education plan for the school year in which a child turns 16, parents may legitimately include only that portion of the year in which the child will still be under 16. While there is no regulation requiring this, we recommend that when your child turns 16, you write the district a farewell letter, informing them that you will no longer be reporting for your over-16 year-old child. Even though you can stop reporting your child at age 16, be sure to continue keeping records of your child's homeschool experiences in case he or she wishes to attend college or pursue a post-homeschool program which requires documentation that the student completed high-school level work.
Please take note, however, that if your child is playing varsity school sports (many districts permit this), the school principal is responsible for determining whether or not your child meets the academic eligibility requirements that other students must meet. (See Requirements for Participation in Interscholastic Athletic Programs). In this case, the principal will probably expect you to continue some form of reporting, in order to maintain compliance with the Massachusetts Athletic Association requirements for varsity sports.
Some homeschooled teens also participate in other school activities, such as band or academics. Whatever arrangements are made in these areas are at the discretion of the local district. However, if your teen is interested in participating in school activities, we encourage you to investigate what arrangements work in other districts and to approach your district about setting up such arrangements. Frequently, homeschooling families and their school districts can arrive at mutually satisfactory agreements about participation in school activities or classes. Knowing the experiences of other homeschoolers may be valuable during these interactions with school officials. Contact local support groups, or inquire on the MHLA Facebook Group to find out what arrangements have been made in other districts.
For more information on compulsary attendance, see Ten Points: #6 and the FAQ on Reporting.