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 families to find the best educational fit for their children’s needs and goals.
New Hampshire has excellent public schools and is a top performing state according to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), widely called the “nation’s report card.” Access to public schools is assigned by 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. According to US News, New Hampshire is ranked #2 for the best states for PreK to grade 12 education. Niche has several rankings published about NH public schools including their 2019 Best School Districts in NH and 2019 Best Public Schools in NH.
Town tuitioning is an educational option for towns or districts that do not offer all grades, Kindergarten through 12th grade. It empowers local school boards to tuition students to other schools for those grade levels that are not available in-district. Receiving schools may be public or secular private schools located in New Hampshire, or neighboring states such as Vermont and Maine. In June 2017, the “Croydon bill” was signed into law to clarify this practice, and it is consistent with NH’s 100+ year-long tradition of tuition agreements with public and private schools. Read more about this educational opportunity in this Granite Institute article.
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.
Education Tax Credit Scholarships
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! To date over 800 students have used tax-credit scholarships to attend a school that best meet their needs. Read more about ETC scholarships here.
Independent and Religious Schools
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 2019 Best Private Schools in NH. Ed Choice published a report in August 2018 that shows how accessible private schools are for families, even in more rural sections of the state. They also did a large study that examines the Granite State’s private education sector.
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 family 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 Support Groups
Local Homeschool Groups and Co-Ops
The Classical Co-Op – Westford, MA
Early Elementary Homeschool Co-Op of Southern NH
First Agape – Auburn NH
Gear Up Homeschoolers – Warner, NH
Hampton Christian Homeschool Group
Hillsborough County Co-op
The Journey – Townsend, MA (for teens)
Lighthouse Homeschool Co-op – Loudon, NH
Mosaic Explore – Manchester, NH
New Horizons Homeschooling – Windham, NH
NH Coastal Co-Op – Exeter, NH
Pembroke Homeschool Writing Club
Rockingham County Co-Op
Southern New Hampshire Homeschooling Support Group
Voyagers – N. Chelmsford MA
WeAre Home Educators – Weare, NH
Homeschool Facebook Groups – statewide unless noted otherwise
Central NH Homeschoolers
Chocorua Area Homeschoolers
Concord Area Homeschoolers
Concord NH Early Elementary Homeschoolers
Fremont Area Homeschoolers
Greater Derry Homeschoolers
Greater Nashua Homeschoolers
Hampstead Homeschool Gym
Homeschooling Families of Seacoast
Homeschooling in Chester NH
Lakes Region Homeschoolers
Manchester NH Homeschoolers
Monadnock Area Homeschooling Families
Monadnock Homeschool Theater Group
New Hampshire Homeschooling Rotating Recess
New Hampshire Homeschool Teen Meet-up
North Country Homeschoolers
Plymouth Area Homeschooling!!!
Relaxed Homeschoolers of New Hampshire
Seacoast Christian Home Educators (SCHEA)
Statewide Support Groups
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.
Classical Conversations (CC)
Classical Conversations desires to lead the home-centered education movement by equipping parents and students with the classical tools of learning. These “lost tools” reignite a love of learning and enable students to tackle any subject with confidence. We empower and support parents and students through our Classical Conversations Communities across the nation and hope that you will join us for an information meeting soon! For an overview of all three programs, watch this short video. It is a Christian program. They have four coordinators responsible for multiple locations across New Hampshire who may be contacted for more information: Laura Zimmerman (Barrington and Rochester), Jill Santoro (Nashua and Merrimack), Leslie Burns (Spofford), and Pam Tengdin (Concord to Lebanon).
Granite State Home Educators (GSHE)
Granite State Home Educators is an all-volunteer statewide grassroots organization created to support and empower families 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. GSHE’s website is comprehensive with NH information and resources. They also have a Facebook page and very large Facebook group as well as GSHE Marketplace to bring buyers and sellers of homeschool materials. They offer periodic events throughout the year including a Not Back to School picnic in the fall and an art show in spring. GSHE is our sister organization.
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)
Since 1989, the statewide New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition has functioned as an important source of information for homeschoolers, with representatives from each area of the state. They support all reasons for homeschooling and are not tied to any particular method, religion or philosophy. The NHHC publishes a monthly newsletter, The New Hampshire Home Education Guidebook, and has an active website, a Facebook page, plus a Facebook group to join for conversation.
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.
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.
If you know of another group that would like to be included on this list, please contact us at email@example.com.