School Choice for New Hampshire supports all educational options for families, including traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, religious schools, and home education. School choice is about empowering parents to find the best educational fit for their children’s needs and goals.
The Children’s Scholarship Fund New Hampshire is the first and largest tax-credit scholarship organization in the state and has been in operation since 2013. They use donations from individuals and businesses to create scholarships for low- and moderate-income families. The scholarships put options within reach for families to choose schools that best fit their children’s needs. The scholarships may be used for tuition at out-of-district public schools, private schools, and religious schools, as well as homeschool expenses. The program grows more and more every year! They awarded more than $220,000 in scholarships to 122 children for the 2016-2017 school year.
In New Hampshire, all charter schools are public schools. As part of the public school system, charters must participate in the same assessments and reporting requirements as other NH public schools, but may offer different approaches and curricula concentrations. For example, some charters use a Montessori approach while others emphasize fine arts or focus on math and science. Charter schools do not charge tuition and have a non-discrimination enrollment policy. Students are also not limited to only those charter schools in their zip code or surrounding communities. The NH Department of Education’s website maintains a list of all operating charter schools and their contact information.
The NH Alliance for Public Charter Schools is a non-profit organization that supports all charters across the state. They have an interactive map that makes searching for charter schools very easy with their missions, locations, and websites.
New Hampshire has numerous non-public school options across the state. Some schools have a religious emphasis while others are secular. These schools are able to operate with a different set of requirements from traditional public schools. Some have admission requirements, so check with the school directly if you have any questions. There is a complete list of non-public schools available through the NH Department of Education. Niche is a website that ranks schools on several factors including sources from the Department of Education, US Census, reviews from parents and students, and various surveys. They recently published a list of 2017 Best Private Schools in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is widely considered to have excellent public schools, rated as the 3rd best in the country according to the “nation’s report card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2015. Enrollment in public schools is limited to zip codes or tuition agreements among districts. The state Department of Education has school and district profiles that include student and staff information, test results, plus attendance and graduation rates. Niche has several rankings published about NH public schools: 2017 Best Public High Schools in New Hampshire, 2017 Best Public Middle Schools in New Hampshire, 2017 Best Public Elementary Schools in New Hampshire, and 2017 Best School Districts in New Hampshire.
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 also help connect you to other homeschoolers closer to you or who share a similar educational approach or focus.
The laws and rules for homeschooling in New Hampshire are relatively straight forward. The requirements are minimal: 1) one-time-only notification per child to either the local school district office (called School Administrative Unit or SAU) or a private school that offers this service; 2) keep a portfolio with work material samples and a reading list from the school year; and 3) conduct a year-end evaluation — either a portfolio evaluation by a certified teacher or a standardized test — each year which the parents can keep for their private records. Note that NH law requires homeschoolers to provide notification to their reporting Participating Agency within five days of starting a home education program or withdrawing a child from school. If using the local SAU for Participating Agency services, parents are also required to notify if they move to a different district. Reference RSA 193-A and Ed 315 for the NH homeschool laws and rules.
Note: Please note 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.
Local Homeschool Groups and Co-Ops
Bridge Homeschool Group
First Agape – Auburn NH
Gear Up Homeschoolers
Lighthouse Homeschool Co-op
New Horizons Homeschooling
Pembroke Homeschool Writing Club
Voyagers – N. Chelmsford MA
Homeschool Facebook Groups
Central NH Homeschoolers
Chocorua Area Homeschoolers
Concord Area Homeschoolers
Concord NH Early Elementary Homeschoolers
Early Elementary Homeschool Co-Op of Southern NH
Greater Derry Homeschoolers
Greater Nashua Homeschoolers
Hampstead Homeschool Gym
Homeschooling Families of Seacoast
Monadnock Area Homeschooling Families
Monadnock Homeschool Theater Group
New Hampshire Homeschooling Rotating Recess
New Hampshire Homeschool Teen Meet-up
New Horizons Homeschooling
North Country Homeschoolers
Plymouth Area Homeschooling!!!
Seacoast Christian Home Educators (SCHEA)
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 email 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.” They also have a Facebook group.
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. They have a Facebook page.
Granite State Home Educators (GSHE)
Granite State Home Educators is an all-volunteer statewide grassroots organization created to support and empower parents who wish to actively direct their children’s education through homeschooling. All are welcome — prospective, current and retired home educators. They believe in empowering parents, parents’ rights to direct their children’s education, and the power of community. Membership is free. They also have a Facebook page.
Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC)
HEAC is an advisory board, created by NH statute, comprised of some homeschool organizations, state agencies, and education associations. Their purpose is to provide a platform for better communication and understanding of homeschooling. They meet every other month in Concord. The public may attend, but cannot address the council unless invited to do so.
New Hampshire Homeschool Coalition (NHHC)
The NHHC welcomes all those interested in homeschooling. They 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. They 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. They 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. They also have a Facebook page.
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.
Relaxed Homeschoolers of New Hampshire
RHNH is a social network of relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers. Membership is inclusive, and events are purely secular. For more info or an invitation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Their 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.
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
HSLDA was founded in 1983 by two attorneys and homeschooling dads, Mike Farris and Mike Smith. Through the years, HSLDA’s primary goal has remained the same—to bring together a large number of homeschooling families so that each can have a low-cost method of obtaining quality legal defense. Today, HSLDA gives tens of thousands of families the freedom to homeschool without having to face legal threats alone. They charge a membership fee for services.
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. They charge an annual membership fee.
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