New Hampshire compulsory school attendance age
Children between the ages of 6 (if reached by September 30 of the current school year) and 18, unless graduated, must attend a public or approved private school or comply with the homeschool law.
If you graduate your child from your homeschool program before he or she turns 18, you can submit a certificate or a letter to the New Hampshire Department of Education that will exempt your child from the compulsory attendance law. HSLDA members may use the model letter provided here.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under New Hampshire law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for New Hampshire available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with New Hampshire’s homeschool law
New Hampshire law states: “The general court recognizes . . . that it is the primary right and obligation of a parent to choose the appropriate educational alternative for a child under his care and supervision, as provided by law. . . . The general court further recognizes that home education is more individualized than instruction normally provided in the classroom setting” (N.H. Rev. State. Ann. § 193-A).
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has reaffirmed the fundamental right to homeschool: “Thus while the State may adopt a policy requiring children to be educated, it does not have the unlimited power to require they be educated in a certain way or place. . . . Home education is an enduring American tradition and right. . . . Thus approval requirements for non-public school education may not unnecessarily interfere with traditional parental rights” (Appeal of Pierce, 451 A.2d 363 ).
The following guidelines will help you to homeschool in compliance with state law.
1. Provide appropriate notification to the authorities.
Parents are required to file an initial notice with a “participating agency” in the following situations:
- within five days of commencing a homeschool program, or
- upon moving into a new school district and changing participating agencies.
The notice must include the names, addresses, and birth dates of the children being homeschooled.
A “participating agency” may be the commissioner of education, public school district superintendent, or principal of a nonpublic school. HSLDA does not recommend that homeschooling families choose the commissioner of education as their participating agency. We encourage families to choose the principal of a nonpublic school instead; a list of private schools that serve as participating agencies for homeschoolers is available here.
If you terminate a home education program you must provide a written notice of termination and file it with the commissioner of education and (in addition) the resident district superintendent or nonpublic school principal, whichever serves as the participating agency, within 15 days.
HSLDA provides user-friendly forms our members can use to comply with New Hampshire’s homeschool law. Please download the forms you need.
2. Teach the required subjects.
The law requires that homeschool programs teach these subjects: science, mathematics, language, government, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, the history of the constitutions of New Hampshire and the United States, and an exposure to and appreciation of art and music.
3. Keep good records.
A homeschooling parent is required by law to maintain a portfolio of records and materials relative to the home education program, consisting of a log of reading materials used and samples of writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or produced by the child. The parent is expected to retain the portfolio for two years. See our article “Recordkeeping: Is It Worth the Trouble?”
4. Evaluate your child annually.
Parents are required by law to annually evaluate students in their home education program. Parents can satisfy the evaluation requirement with:
- A written evaluation of educational progress by a certified teacher or current nonpublic school teacher selected by the parent, prepared after reviewing the student’s portfolio and discussing with the parent or child; or
- The results of any national student achievement test administered by a person meeting the provider’s or publisher’s qualifications, with a composite score at or above the 40th percentile; or
- The results of the state student assessment test used by the resident district, with a composite score at or above the 40th percentile; or
- An evaluation using any other valid measurement tool mutually agreed upon by the parent and the participating agency.
Here is what to do with the evaluation results:
The evaluation results are kept by the parent and not sent to the participating agency. The law states that the results of the evaluation may be used to demonstrate a child’s academic proficiency in order to participate in public school programs, but shall not be used as a basis for terminating a home education program and should provide a basis for a constructive relationship between the parent and the evaluator.
5. Notify the department of education if you graduate your student before the age of 18.
The law recognizes the parents may exempt a child who is under age 18 from compulsory attendance if he or she has completed a homeschool program at the high school level. The law allows parents to “document the completion of a home school program at the high school level by submitting a certificate or a letter to the department of education.” HSLDA members may use the model letter provided here.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find New Hampshire’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.