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.
We also created over a dozen videos to help support you in your home education journey on a variety of topics including an Intro to Homeschooling, Building Your Home Education Program, and deeper dives into other topics such as annual assessments, portfolios, deschooling, special education concerns. It is like a guided tour of our website and will help you get started with your home education program.
NH Educational Options
New Hampshire's education law, RSA 193:1, applies to children who are 6 years old as of September 30th of the current school year to age 18. Kindergarten is optional. Once a child is of "school age," there are four educational options for families to satisfy the education attendance requirements: 1) public education (local district or charter), 2) private education, 3) home education, or 4) the Education Freedom Account (EFA) program, new as of summer 2021. These are separate and distinct enrollment options; each child's status determines which requirements and choices apply. Refer to this infographic as a visual explanation.
What is Home Education?
Home education is a customized learning plan that is determined by the family to meet the unique needs and goals of their children. Learning can happen where, when, and how we choose and home education is 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 restricted 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 homeschoolers are not required to duplicate public education at home in any way -- not the pedagogy, standards, scope and sequence, calendar year, daily schedule, attendance minimum, or anything else. The home education requirements are simple and straightforward; the statute and rules can be found in RSA 193-A and Ed 315. 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.
Participating Agency Options
|Local SAU Office||Private School||NH DOE|
|convenient||often more flexible for annual assessment alternatives|
|may know staff||currently very friendly to home education|
|good alternative if there's a poor relationship with the SAU||good alternative if there's a poor relationship with the SAU|
|not limited to one near your home|
|does not compromise ability to use Equal Access||does not compromise ability to use Equal Access|
|CONs||may be hostile to home ed||charges a fee||may be hostile to home ed|
|may be too far to utilize extra programs|
The notification letter, or Letter of Intent (LOI), must contain the following information as specified in RSA 193-A:5 II for each child who is beginning a home education program:
- the children's names
- birth dates
- parent(s)' name(s)
- daytime phone number
- date the home ed program will begin
- signature of the parent(s)
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. GSHE also developed a form that may be used for notification. Districts cannot require families to use their form.
If you are withdrawing your child from a public or private school, provide written notice 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. This 2020 technical advisory from the NH Department of Education underscores the Participating Agency legal requirements.
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 samples of what the child did during their homeschool year, such as worksheets, writing samples, videos, computer programs, tests, creative pieces, mementos from field trips, and volunteer activity notes. 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.
Families may also choose to use an alternative method to demonstrate their child's progress. This must be agreed upon with the Participating Agency in advance and in writing so there is no confusion later.
More information is available on our Testing & Evaluations page.
Do Not Over-Share
There are many times it may seem kinder, more helpful, or even easier to give more information to your local district or a private school, but there are even more reasons to not over-share or over-comply with the home education requirements. NH homeschoolers value the autonomy and freedom that so many have worked to obtain. There are common examples of circumstances when you may be prompted or encouraged to over-share information, and alternatives that do not go beyond NH's home ed law.
GSHE has a great deal of information and resources, so take your time to browse through the sections that pertain to your family. We highly encourage viewing our videos that cover various topics in brief formats. Here are some links to guide you to additional aspects of NH home education options.
Homeschool Methods - Here we have descriptions of common approaches to home ed along with online quizzes and list of resources that go with each style plus review sites of home ed materials.
Equal Access -- Districts must give resident students access to curricular and co-curricular programs.
Children with Special Needs -- Find info about testing and services, plus where to access additional support and assistance.
Online Classes -- Online (distance) learning is home education and there is particular info about the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS).
Affordability -- There are many ways to make home education more affordable including free resources and educator discount programs.
High School & Beyond -- Find tons of information for teen homeschoolers and their families including career and technical education, dual enrollment programs, the college application process, and more.
Graduation -- Homeschool families self-certify their student's completion of the equivalent of 12th grade.
Support Groups -- NH has a diverse and active community around the state including family-led learning groups, drop-off programs, and more ways to plug in.
Enrichment Classes & Programs -- There are many educational providers that offer special programs and learning opportunities to homeschoolers.
Field Trips -- There are many places to visit to enhance your home ed program.