Families may begin a home education program at any time, even in the middle of the school year! Welcome to the adventure!
What is Home Education?
New Hampshire's compulsory attendance applies to children who are 6 years old (as of September 30th of the school year) to age 18. Kindergarten is optional.
Although it is no where in statute or rules, at least 51% of a child's education must be directed by the parents or guardians to be considered homeschooling. This guideline comes from Home Education Advisory Council discussions in the early 2000s. Many districts have a maximum number of classes resident homeschooled students may participate and still be considered home educated. Refer to Equal Access for more details.
NH statute requires home ed programs include science, math, language, government, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, history of the US and NH constitutions, and exposure to and appreciation of art and music.
The "how" and "when" are not specified in either state law or rules. This means that home education can happen anywhere, at anytime, and in any way we choose! We are not limited to districts' calendars or schedules. Neither are we limited to when the above subjects are taught or which curricula or materials to use. This flexibility is a hallmark of home education; it does not need to replicate "school at home."
1. one-time only notification
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, a private school that offers the service, or the state Department of Education. This is called the Participating Agency.
Local SAUs are required to offer Participating Agency services to home educators in their districts at no fee.
Private schools offer distance between the student’s personal information and the state. One reason this separation is valued by many families is because the state maintains a massive Student Longitudinal Data System. Home educated students 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 home education program will begin
A template for a Letter of Intent is available here. The NH Department of Education also created a form (in September 2018) that families may use as their Letter of Intent. This makes it clear what information is required. 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, language spoken at home, local district assigned school, or race. Districts cannot require families use their provided form.
It is highly recommended to send the notification by certified mail. The Participating Agency must acknowledge receipt within 14 days. It is very important to save copies of both letters as a precaution against truancy or educational neglect concerns.
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 home education 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.
Parents and guardians are required to keep records of each student's home education program. The portfolio must include a list of books the student reads and work-product samples from the year such as worksheets, writing samples, videos, computer programs, tests, and creative pieces. Records do not have to be comprehensive; several pages per subject from the study period is often sufficient. The year-end assessment -- a standardized test, teacher evaluation, or mutually accepted method agreed upon by the Participating Agency -- should also be maintained. These records must be kept a minimum of two years from the date instruction ended. Note that school districts cannot demand to review the student’s records, but they may be required for participation in school-sponsored activities, course placement, or proof against educational neglect.
3. 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. We compiled resources for organizing a portfolio.
More information is available on our Testing & Evaluations page.
Home educated students can benefit from offerings at their local schools. Per NH statute RSA 193:1-c, they may participate in curricular and cocurricular activities 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, home educated students must meet the same requirements. This is another reason to maintain year-end assessments and records in case they are needed for course placements or fulfilling other enrollment criteria.
If home educated students enroll in curricular or co-curricular programs at their local high schools, they may be assigned a Unique Pupil Identifier in the Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS). This is a massive student database that may be shared with third-party organizations.
Children with Special Needs
Parents have the right to home educate their children with special needs. The federal law, Child Find, requires all school districts to identify and evaluate any child in their area who may qualify for special education services. If a family chooses to homeschool, the local public school is not obligated to provide those services; however, they may offer services to homeschooling families through RSA 189:49.
Schools must provide access to curricular and co-curricular activities to home educated students with special needs if they choose to participate. Districts may limit availability based on enrollment of other students.
More information is available in the NH Special Education Procedural Safeguards Handbook, updated February 2016. Reference Appendix D.
Most states, including NH, consider distance (online) learning as homeschooling, even if it is full-time in an accredited program. College Board, the organization that issues the SAT exam and Advanced Placement program, follows this same standard.
Full-time enrollment in the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) is not homeschooling as it is a NH-based public charter school. However, students are considered homeschoolers if their enrollment in VLACS is not more than half of their home ed program.