Looking for a highly personalized education for your student? Want to instill a love of learning? Want your children to take ownership of their education? Then consider homeschooling. A recent Business Insider article called homeschooling the “smartest way to teach kids in the 21st century.”
New Hampshire is a friendly state for homeschooling. The laws, while not perfect, are not especially cumbersome. NH has the proud distinction as the only state that offers a K-12 tax-credit scholarship available to homeschoolers. Plus, there are numerous resources at the state and local level. With all that going for homeschooling, it is worth checking out!
New Hampshire’s laws are straightforward. Most applicable statutes and rules can be found in RSA 193-A and Ed 315 (scroll about half way down). Requirements break down into three basic components:
- one-time only notification
In New Hampshire the age of compulsory school attendance is six (as of September 30) to 18. Parents need to notify their intent to homeschool only one time per child and within five days of starting the program. The letter must be filed with the local School Administrative Unit (SAU) district office or a private school that offers the service. This is called the Participating Agency.
Local SAUs are required to offer Participating Agency services to homeschoolers in their districts at no fee.
Private schools offer distance between the student’s personal information and the state. This separation is valued by many families because the state maintains a massive Student Longitudinal Data System. Homeschoolers may be included in the database when they notify the SAU or participate in classes, extra curriculars, or statewide assessments. Many private schools charge a fee and offer additional optional services including field trips, transcript reports, sports participation, and more.
The notification letter must contain the following information:
- child’s name, address, birth date
- parents’ names and addresses as well as daytime phone numbers
- date the homeschool program will begin
A sample letter is available here. As of May 2006, it is no longer required to include curriculum or scope and sequence information. It is also not required to provide the child’s grade level.
It is highly recommended to send the notification by certified mail. The Participating Agency must acknowledge receipt within 14 days. Be sure to save copies of both letters.
If families notify their local SAU instead of a private school, then both the old and new SAU offices must be informed of the relocation if it is to a new district.
Parents must also notify their Participating Agency if the homeschool program ends prior to the student turning 18 or completes the equivalent of 12th grade (graduates). If the student graduates and is not yet 18, the state Department of Education must be notified with the following information:
- name and address of student, date of birth
- name and address of parents, daytime phone numbers
- date the home education program completed
- parent signature
Again, parents are strongly advised to keep a record and consider sending it certified mail. The state DOE’s mailing address is 101 Pleasant Street, Concord, NH 03301-3860.
Homeschoolers must keep a list of books the student reads and work-product samples from the year. This may include worksheets, writing samples, videos, computer programs, tests, and artwork. The materials must be maintained for two years. Note that SAUs cannot demand to review the student’s portfolio. Records do not have to be comprehensive; a few pages per subject or topic from the study period is often sufficient.
- year-end evaluation
Families must satisfy this requirement with a standardized achievement test, an evaluation by a certified teacher, or another method acceptable to the parents and Participating Agency. Again, this is when working with a private school can be beneficial. Results may be kept private; families are not required to submit them to the Participating Agency.
Numerous standardized tests are available and each has different administration requirements, fees, and scoring turn-around times. Some, but not all, are aligned with Common Core Standards. Students are expected to achieve a composite score at or above the 40th percentile.
Evaluations by a certified teacher may include review of the portfolio and mementos from the school year such as playbills, records from sports programs, field trips, etc. The evaluation must determine if the child has demonstrated “progress commensurate with age and ability.” This can be particularly favorable for unschoolers and students with special needs. The evaluation must be signed by parents to be considered complete, so do not sign it unless it is acceptable.
Access to Public School Opportunities
Homeschoolers can benefit from offerings at their local schools. Per NH statute RSA 193:1-c, homeschoolers may participate in curricular and cocurricular offered at their local public schools such as sports, music, theater, dances, volunteer activities, and statewide testing. The districts’ policies must not be more restrictive for homeschoolers than it is for the general student population. In other words, if public school students must maintain a particular GPA, provide a health certificate, or sign an honor code to participate in sports, homeschoolers must meet the same requirements. This is another reason to maintain year-end evaluations in case they are needed for course placements or fulfilling other enrollment criteria.
New Hampshire is the only state that has a tax-credit scholarship available to homeschoolers! The Children’s Scholarship Fund – NH is the largest scholarship organization in the state. They make funds available to low- and moderate-income families to put educational options within reach for their K-12 children. Applications are available as of January 1st for the following school year.
Homeschooling is growing across the country and in New Hampshire. This means that there are many educational and networking resources available for families; parents don’t have to recreate the wheel or go it alone. Many experienced homeschoolers are happy to share their resources and coordinate learning opportunities. Below are some of the home education support organizations in New Hampshire. These groups can make connections to other homeschoolers in the local area as well as those that share a similar educational approach or focus.
National Home Education Legal Defense (NHELD)
NHELD is a national organization that seeks to protect and defend the rights of families who wish to educate in freedom. They have three goals: empowerment of individuals, unity of purpose, and freedom to educate. They provide various services to members including informing them of federal legislation that may impact their ability to educate in freedom and empowering them with the resources to make informed decisions about the issues.
State-Wide Homeschool Support Groups
Christian Home Educators of New Hampshire (CHENH)
Christian Home Educators of NH began as a local homeschool support group in Hillsborough in 1988 before there was a home school law. In those days parents had to ask permission and show evidence of some hardship (religious, etc) and then submit to the whims of local officials. This was changed in 1990 with the passage of RSA 193-A and associated rules Ed 315. CHENH became a statewide organization intent on lobbying the legislature during a contentious process that pitted state bureaucrats, wanting complete control over home education, against parents who wanted complete autonomy. The result was something in the middle and CHENH has remained active trying to keep State regulation to a minimum ever since.
New Hampshire Homeschool Coalition (NHHC)
The NHHC welcomes all those interested in homeschooling. We support all reasons for homeschooling and are not tied to any particular method, religion or philosophy. With over 5,000 homeschooled students in New Hampshire, the statewide New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition functions as an important source of information. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and as such, may not attempt to influence legislation or participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. We have two members on the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC), which works to “encourage an understanding of home education.” (Ed 315.10(a)) at the Department of Education. We also have a Facebook page.
Relaxed Homeschoolers of New Hampshire
RHNH is a social network of relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. Our membership is inclusive, and our events are purely secular. For more info or an invitation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our mission is to provide a collaborative platform for arranging educational field trips, forming educational cooperatives, facilitating social interactions, exchanging educational ideas, and discussing educational challenges. They also have a Facebook group.
Catholics United for Home Education
CUHE-NH — Catholics United for Home Education was incorporated in the State of New Hampshire in September 1989. It serves as a network for Catholic homeschoolers, providing support through an eamil list while connects groups throughout the state. It was established “to provide encouragement and support for [NH] Catholic parents who desire to educate their children at home…to protect the rights of parents to home educate their children and to provide information on Home Education.”
NH Homeschooling Resources (NHHR)
NHHR is a website with many resources for homeschoolers, including some of the longest running discussion forums. Much of the information is dated, but many of the forums are still quite active. This is a good alternative for people not engaged via Facebook.
Lists of Local Homeschool Support Groups
New Hampshire Homeschooling Resources
New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition’s Local Support Groups List
Active Homeschooling Facebook Groups
Central NH Homeschoolers
Concord Area Homeschoolers
Concord NH Early Elementary Homeschoolers
Greater Derry Homeschoolers
Greater Nashua Homeschoolers
Homeschooling Families of Seacoast
Plymouth Area Homeschooling!!!
Seacoast Christian Home Educators (SCHEA)
Southern NH Homeschoolers
If you know of another group that would like to be included on this list, please contact us at email@example.com.
This is an overview and not intended as legal advice. It is a parent’s responsibility to know and understand the requirements, rules, and laws governing homeschooling.