Childcare & Schooling

This section offers information on childcare and schooling in the Boston area. Children under age 5 are not eligible for public schools. The various childcare options for children under age 5 are described below. For school-age children, there is information regarding registering children for school and links to area school systems below.


For Younger Children

Office of Work/Life Resources
The Office of Work/Life connects scholars and students with Harvard and community resources, and provides general information about choosing the type of child-care and educational options for children.

Harvard Longwood Campus: Affiliates of Harvard Medical School, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine may have access to several Longwood Medical Area child care centers.

For School Aged Children

Public Schools
Each city or town has its own public schools for children aged 4 or 5 to 18. By law, these schools are free for those who live in the community. As long as you live in a community, that city or town is obliged to enroll your child in its school system, regardless of your nationality, the timing of your arrival, or the length of your stay. The school year normally begins in early September (sometime during the week after Labor Day) and continues through the third week in June. You must contact your local school department to inquire about its enrollment procedure. In general, to register a child in school, parents should bring proof of the child's age (either a birth certificate or passport), current immunization records, and proof of local residency.

In Cambridge, new families should contact the Student Registration Center located at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School, 459 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02138, (617) 349-6551. Cambridge public schools require completion of a Certificate of Address form with a parent signature authorized by a notary public. The HIO has copies of this form and can direct you to a notary public. Click here for detailed information on enrollment in Cambridge schools.

If your child lacks the immunizations required for school enrollment and you are a Cambridge resident, you may make an appointment at one of the Cambridge Neighborhood Health Clinics. You can find more information at the Cambridge Health Alliance. In other cities and towns school officials will usually direct you to local health facilities to get the required immunizations.

Private and Parochial Schools
There are many private primary and secondary schools in the Boston/Cambridge area. Applications are usually submitted in the winter preceding fall enrollment, but spaces may be available at any given time. Tuition may range from $5,000 to $40,000 per year. Parents must arrange for transportation to and from school. Parochial schools are private schools with a religious affiliation. There are several within a reasonable distance of the Harvard community. Please consult the HIO flyer entitled Private Schools: Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Boston Area for a list of some area private and parochial schools.

Community and After-School Programs
These programs are available in many public school districts at reasonable costs. They allow children to remain at their schools for an extended period of time after the regular school closing time. Various planned and supervised activities are offered along with snacks. Parents must usually provide transportation from the after-school program to their homes. Inquire at the School Department of your community about these programs.

Nursery Schools
Nursery schools are generally for children ages two years and nine months to five years old and the programs take place in the mornings for three hours. However, many variations exist among individual schools. Some offer programs for younger children; some offer two, three, or five-day enrollment options; some offer extended afternoon schedules. Fees vary accordingly. Some co-operative nursery schools involve parents in their day-to-day operations and therefore are somewhat less expensive. All schools are licensed by the State and must meet building and health codes in the area where they are located.

Baby Sitters
For the most up-to-date information please click here.

Boston Area School Information

After you have found housing in the Boston area, you may wish to have your children attend a nearby public school. Typically each community has several elementary schools, one or more middle schools, and one or more high schools. You should call the general information number listed here for your town and ask for information. Generally, to register your children for school go directly to the individual school. If you live in Cambridge, go to the Student Registration Center at 459 Broadway, Cambridge MA 02138. If you live in Boston one of the more conveniently located Welcome Centers is at 2300 Washington St, 2nd Floor, Roxbury, MA 02119.

Arlington Belmont Boston Brookline Cambridge
Lexington Medford Newton Somerville Waltham
Watertown Winchester      

Registration procedures differ slightly from public school to public school, but in general you should take the following items with you to registration. For more information call your individual school.

  • Identification: a birth certificate or passport
  • Health records: These should include a record of all immunizations. Click here to access information of the immunization requirements for students in Massachusetts.
  • Address verification: This could be a bill or bank statement addressed to you at your current address.
  • Previous school records: Any records you have from your child's previous school will help in placing your child correctly. If your child will be in kindergarten, they will be placed by age. Most schools require that kindergarten students be 5 years old either by August 31 or December 31 of the school year. Contact your individual school for details.

Please note that some daycare programs for before and after school are privately run. All public school systems offer an English Language Learners program (a.k.a. English as a second language) which may help your child adjust to a new language. Ask if an English Language Learners program is available in the specific school where your child is assigned.

Cambridge Public Schools

The Cambridge public elementary school enrollment policy is not based on the geographic location of where you live in Cambridge. It is designed to achieve a diversity of children in each school balancing economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Families must therefore indicate at least three choices of elementary schools when registering their children. Children will be accepted at a chosen school provided that space is available. Elementary schools serve children from kindergarten through grade 5, the Upper Schools serve children from grade 6 through grade 8. There is only one high school serving children from grade 9 through grade 12. As soon as possible after locating housing in Cambridge, we suggest that families obtain a school information packet from the Student Registration Center (SRC) at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, First Floor, SRC Entrance, 459 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138, or email the SRC. You can pre-register online, but you still will need to come in to the SRC with the required documents to complete the registration process. There also is information for families relocating from outside the U.S.

It is important to note that before most families arrive at Harvard, several Cambridge school registration periods have already passed. Therefore, spaces in some grade levels of some schools may already be filled. Specific information about various programs and school assignments should be directed to the SRC.