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

The law requires that children attend school or be homeschooled from the first school year in which they turn 6 by December 31 until their 16th birthday.

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

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:

Although Massachusetts school districts vary, HSLDA has found that most require an annual notice of intent to provide home instruction. According to state law and court opinions, there are four areas a superintendent or school committee may consider when reviewing a notice of intent:

  • The proposed curriculum and number of hours of instruction
  • The competency of the parents (parents do not need college or advanced degrees)
  • Textbooks, workbooks, and other instructional aids to be used (so that the superintendent or committee can determine the subjects to be taught and the grade level of instruction for comparison with the curriculum of the public schools)
  • The method of assessment used (to ensure educational progress and attainment of minimum standards); the superintendent or school committee can require standardized testing or may substitute, with the approval of the parents, another form of assessment

We suggest that you notify your local superintendent at the beginning of the school year by using HSLDA’s specially designed forms available as a members-only resource page here. Along with the notice, we recommend that you provide a list of materials you intend to use, a brief description of the curriculum and/or subjects to be taught, and a description of your qualifications or the qualifications of others who will be instructing your children. HSLDA also provides a “Massachusetts Notice of Intent to Continue a Program of Home Education” for annual use after the initial notice is sent for a child.

Massachusetts law requires that all students be taught the following subjects: 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.

While there are no specific requirements in Massachusetts law for how often each of the subjects must be taught or at what grade levels, HSLDA’s general recommendation is that each of the required subjects be taught at an age-appropriate level every year during the elementary and middle school years, and at least once at the high school level.

There is no explicit legal requirement that homeschool records be kept. However, certain assessments may require various records and work samples. Please see “Records” below.

A superintendent or school committee may require periodic standardized tests or “other means of evaluating the progress of the children [that] may be substituted for the formal testing process, such as periodic progress reports or dated work samples.” Testing or evaluation must be mutually agreed upon by the parents and the superintendent or school committee.

According to the Massachusetts Supreme Court opinion issued in the case Care and Protection of Charles, the standard of review to determine adequate progress is if the education is equal in “thoroughness, efficiency and progress made therein” to that of the schools in the district.


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 June 24, 2015