This is the time of year when parents may be considering homeschooling. There are many issues to take into account including styles or approaches, curriculum options, as well as the legal requirements. This article will address the New Hampshire laws and rules for starting a homeschool program.
NH homeschool laws are rather straight-forward and clear. There are two basic requirements: notification and year-end assessments.
Notification is required only one-time per school-aged child. If a child is six years-old by September 30th, parents or guardians are required to inform either their local school district office (SAU) or a private school that offers this service that your child will be homeschooled. In the law, the provider is called a Participating Agency. This one-time notice will suffice for the entire time this child is homeschooled. If you decide to home educate additional children, you will need to submit a notification letter for each one. Notification is due by the first day of school in your district or within five days of withdrawing your child from a public or private school. It is highly recommended to put notification in writing and to keep a copy in your permanent records. Some parents send the letter via certified mail. If you use the local SAU as your Participating Agency and move to another district, you are required to notify your old and new district of the change
The notification letter must include the child’s name, birth date, and home address; the parents’ names, addresses, and daytime telephone numbers; and date the homeschool program will begin. Note that you are not required to indicate the child’s grade level , curriculum choices, or reason why you are home educating your child.
All SAU offices are required to provide Participating Agency services to residents in their district at no additional fee. However, using a private school has a distinct advantage. Unlike public schools, private schools report their homeschool information to the state in aggregate, not as individuals. They also do not enter the student’s information in the massive database that all public schools use. This is an important layer of privacy and separation that SAUs cannot provide. Several private schools across the state offer Participating Agency services. They usually charge a fee and may have additional requirements. Many also offer supplemental resources to their homeschooling families including participation in field trips, classes, tutoring, and transcript assistance. The New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition and the Citrus Group have lists of private schools that work with homeschoolers.
The Participating Agency is required to send an acknowledgement letter within 14 days of receiving your notification. Note that they do not have approval authority; they simply acknowledge receipt. This is an important distinction because in years past, some SAU superintendents tried to demand information beyond the legal requirements and deny parents the ability to homeschool their children. Most SAU offices are more cooperative in recent years.
If you decide to end your homeschool program before your student is 18 years old, you are required to inform your Participating Agency within 15 days of its termination. If your child will complete your high-school program before his or her 18th birthday, you may certify it with the NH Department of Education by sending a letter to the Commissioner of Education. While this is not required to satisfy state law, some colleges want the additional documentation for their application procedures.