Homeschooling in the Granite State

Where to find information and resources related to educating your child at home

Whether you are new to homeschooling in New Hampshire or are looking for some new ways to supplement your instruction, the New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition (NHHC) offers a wealth of information to homeschooling families.

Stefanie Marsh, of Wolfeboro, is the coordinator of the NHHC and has been homeschooling for 27 years. When she started, there were only about 15 families in her Wolfeboro area homeschool support group, but with the huge growth of homeschooling over the years, the group now boasts about 200 families.

The NHHC works to support homeschooling families all over the state. The role of the coalition is to connect and support families, no matter how they decide to homeschool.

“They might need legal information, curriculum, or a way to find others and get connected,” Marsh said.

NHHC’s website, www.nhhomeschooling.org, points to homeschooling laws, curricula, support groups, tutors, and more.

The NHHC formed in 1989 and is run by volunteers. The group supports all types of homeschooling philosophy and is not tied to any particular religion or method. Run by members, its board of representatives is member-selected, and incudes a representative from each region of New Hampshire.

Successful homeschooling families do not need specialized degrees, and most parents who homeschool have interesting backgrounds and diverse reasons for deciding to homeschool, she said.

The reason families choose homeschooling in lieu of public or private schools has changed radically since Marsh began. Two of the biggest reasons families used to homeschool were related to religion or the desire for their children to learn in freedom. Today, more families are opting to homeschool because their children are experiencing bullying or high anxiety, she said.

“They find that their children learn well at home and that they can focus more easily on core subjects. Besides covering academics, homeschoolers spend a lot of time mixing with other kids, whether they are doing theater, soccer, or 4-H. It’s a more low-pressure environment. It’s a different feeling than having to stay in one building for five or six hours,” she said.

Fewer families today meet face-to-face to discuss homeschooling with other like-minded families, and many rely on the group’s Facebook page and website to point them to local support groups and upcoming events held throughout the state.

Because homeschooling can take on different forms – from strictly following an online curriculum, to mixing textbook work with homeschooling co-op classes and self-structured “unit studies” with library books, to the independent learning of “unschooling” — the coalition provides as many resources as possible to interested families.

  • From the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center to Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, many organizations offer special enrichment classes that meet during the day for homeschool students.
  • If you are looking for a way for your children to experience physical education, the NHHC website can direct you to dance, gymnastics, martial arts, and group-run physical education classes.
  • For children who want to dive deeper into a subject area, or for parents who prefer that their kids receive instruction in a particular subject from someone else, the coalition also lists writing classes and math enrichment classes, as well as foreign language, art, and music classes.

District representatives in each area of the state can also help families navigate New Hampshire state law, answer questions, and help make connections. All coalition representatives and officers are volunteers; they attend quarterly business meetings of the NHHC and are homeschooling parents themselves. Families can find their local coalition representative on the website.

If you are just getting started or thinking about homeschooling for the first time, the NHHC can guide you through the laws related to homeschooling, how to get started, and how to formulate a plan.

Home education in New Hampshire is governed by RSA 193-A, which went into effect on July 1, 1991. Under this law, parents or legal guardians who wish to home-school their child(ren) are required to:

  • Contact a participating agency (in most cases, the local school superintendent or a participating private school) of their intent to homeschool.
  • Keep a portfolio of the home-schooled child’s work and log of reading materials.
  • Have an annual evaluation demonstrating educational progress commensurate with the child’s age and ability.

You also must notify, in writing, of your intent to withdraw your child from school to homeschool. The NHHC includes notification letter templates to help parents comply with the notification law. Other resources include a list of evaluators who can review your child’s work, and guidance related to compiling a student portfolio.

The coalition also provides a section on its site that lists local support groups, cooperatives, and social groups led by homeschooling families. You can find local representatives listed under at www.nhhomeschooling.org/nhhc-representatives

Krysten Godfrey Maddocks is a frequent contributor to ParentingNH.

Categories: Education, Homeschooling

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