Home School Education Overview
Home Schooling in Massachusetts:
Home schooling is legal in all 50 states in the United States and in many other countries around the world. Each state has its own regulations and each school district may have specific policies and guidelines.
Complying with Massachusetts’s home school Law:
Oversight of home education is a function of the local school district in which you reside. School Authorities are responsible for enforcing the compulsory attendance law (General Law chapter 76, Sec. 1). They are also responsible for approving home education plans. Parents are responsible for giving prior notification to the school district of their home education plan, which equals the local public school’s ‘in thoroughness and efficiency.” Parents also must comply with an evaluation program mutually agreed upon by the school and parents.
Massachusetts’ compulsory attendance law provides that children must attend a recognized and/or approved school or be educated in some other way that is approved in advance by the local school committee or superintendent. To legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
Submit a Notice of Intent to the School District:
South Hadley Public Schools requires parents to submit an education plan. Additionally, we request an end of the year summary. Please be aware that students may not be withdrawn from school until parents have an approved plan. Both an educational plan and the end of the year summary must be submitted to the superintendent's office.
Clubs, Sports, and Extra Curricular Activities:
Home school students may not access art, music, extra-curricular activities or clubs. High school students may access high school sports in accordance with the policy referenced below. Resident home school students may access special education services in accordance with the applicable laws as referenced in the policy below.
Massachusetts law requires that all students be taught the following subjects: spelling, reading, writing, English language and grammar, geography, arithmetic, drawing, music, United States history and Constitution, duties of citizenship, health (including CPR), physical education, and good behavior. Parent Guides are available from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE). DESE also outlines the specific course work students will be instructed in when educated in a public school district. These can be helpful for homeschool parents as well. Please follow this link to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks site.
Record keeping is the responsibility of the parents. The home school plan, submitted annually, is an overview of your plan for your child’s education. Proof of an approved plan (annually) is generally a requirement for students transferring to public, public charter, or private schools in future school years. It is the responsibility of the parents to keep careful documentation of the plans they submit and the approval letters they receive from the district. Though there is no legal requirement for parents to keep specific records, it is very helpful for parents to document what subject their child was instructed in.
Home School Record Keeping Recommendations
School Records – Parents should plan to keep records of their children’s homeschooling education. Though not required by law, having various records is very helpful to track your child’s progress and may be helpful or necessary should you elect to enroll your child into public or private school at a later date. Many parents recommend having a binder for each school year.
These can include any of the following:
- Your child’s typical daily schedule and or an annual school calendar
- Learning materials and curriculum
- List of annual learning goals for your child
- Evaluations, tests, quizzes, report cards and grades
- Places you visit on field trips
- Extracurricular activities – sports, music or dance classes etc.
- Photos of your child doing various activities
- A photo log your child has created
- Projects or documentation of projects your child has completed
- Reading lists of books read and or written book reports
- A variety of samples of the child’s school work .
- Projects and accomplishments
- Checklist of life skills acquired
- Transcripts you have created for course work (high school students)
- Video recordings of your child reading, presenting a book report, reciting a poem, acting out skits, or playing an instrument
In addition to home school work, it is helpful for parents to also keep track of other documentation that may be helpful at a later date. These can include:
- Child’s birth certificates
- Annual Wellness check-up summaries and Immunization records
- Previous school records
- Copies of all correspondence with school officials, including Annual Home School Proposals and End of the Year Summary Reports
- Copy of the parent or teacher’s degree or diploma, or teaching certificate, if applicable
- Receipts for educational materials
- List of in-service training that you have completed (homeschool workshops, book lists of resources read, tapes, support group topical studies, etc.