Families may begin a home education program at any time, even in the middle of the school year! Welcome to the adventure!
We review all of this information -- an overview of homeschooling in NH, the simple reporting requirements, plus the resources, equal access statute, online learning, special education issues, and making home education more affordable -- in our video series available on our YouTube channel. It is like a guided tour of our website and will help you get started with your home education program.
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.
Homeschooling in NH has a lot of flexibility. Our home education programs can happen where, when, and how we choose! Homeschoolers are not limited to districts' calendars or schedules. Neither are we limited to when the required subjects are taught or which curricula or materials to use. We are also not limited to a particular place where the education must occur. Although NH statute requires home ed programs include several subjects at some point in your child's home education program -- science, math, language, government, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, history of the US and NH constitutions, as well as exposure to and appreciation of art and music – it does not specify when or how these subjects must be covered. This flexibility is a hallmark of home education; it does not need to replicate "school at home." This is what makes homeschooling a customized education for our children.
New Hampshire’s laws are straightforward. Most applicable statutes and rules can be found in RSA 193-A and Ed 315. (Please refer to the revised Ed 315 rules found on the GSHE website for the most current edition.) Requirements break down into three basic components:
- one-time only notification
Parents need to notify their intent to homeschool only one time per child and within five business days of starting the program. Advance notice or waiting to receive the acknowledgement letter to begin is not necessary; families may begin a home education immediately and at any time in the year. 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. Many families value the additional privacy of filing with a private school; home educated students may be included in the state's student 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. Per state law, chartered public schools are not able to serve as Participating Agencies.
The notification letter, or Letter of Intent (LOI), must contain the following information as specified in RSA 193-A:5 II: the names, addresses, and birth dates of the children who will be home educated. 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.
The NH Department of Education created a form that families may use for notification or families may write their own Letter of Intent. Districts cannot require families to use their form.
If you are withdrawing your child from a public or private school, provide notice in writing so they do not expect your child in class. If you are filing your Letter of Intent with your local SAU, you may add a simple sentence to your notification to withdraw them. There is no requirement to provide reasons for withdrawing your child.
It is highly recommended to send the Letter of Intent by certified mail because it provides proof when you mailed notification as well as when your chosen Participating Agency received it.
The PA must send an acknowledgement letter within 14 days of receiving your notification. Note that it should not be specific to a single year because home ed law changed in 2012 to require one-time only notification. It is very important to save copies of both letters, your Letter of Intent and the acknowledgement letter from your PA, as a precaution against truancy or educational neglect concerns; they are your proof that your family is complying with compulsory attendance and home education laws. You do not need to wait until you receive the acknowledgement letter from your selected PA to begin your home ed program; you can begin immediately.
If a family uses the local SAU as their Participating Agency and moves, then the old SAU should be informed and a new Letter of Intent filed with the new SAU office. If a private school or the NH Department of Education serves as the Participating Agency, notify them of the address change, but there is no need to send a new Letter of Intent.
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 book titles 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.
- 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. Families may participate in their local SAU's statewide testing. Check the SAU's policies to find out their process and any other requirements to participate. Students are expected to achieve a composite score at or above the 40th percentile.
Evaluations by a certified teacher or someone teaching in a nonpublic school 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 health records, 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. Additional information is available on our Equal Access page.
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.
We have much more information in our Children with Special Needs page.
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 may enroll in VLACS on a part-time basis as part of their home education program.