Are you considering homeschooling your child? You can do it! As you get started, it’s important to make sure you comply with the education laws where you live. This page helps you understand how to homeschool legally—step by step.


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.


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 are also eligible to use the sample letter of withdrawal for their state, available in Member Resources, to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “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 your state’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. ยง 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 [1982]).

The following guidelines will help you to homeschool in compliance with state law.

Parents are required to file an initial notice with a “participating agency” in the following situations:

  1. within five days of commencing a homeschool program,
  2. if withdrawing a child from a public school,
  3. upon moving into a new school district, or
  4. upon terminating a home education program.

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.

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.

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?”

Parents are required by law to annually evaluate students in their home education program. Parents can satisfy the evaluation requirement with:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. The results of the state student assessment test used by the resident district, with a composite score at or above the 40th percentile; or
  4. 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.

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.


Records

If your state has any specific recordkeeping requirements, they are listed above. Regardless of your state’s recordkeeping requirements, 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.

These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.



Home School Legal Defense Association is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. We are dedicated to protecting the legality of your homeschool while equipping you to successfully teach your children.

HSLDA members have 24/7 phone and email access to our staff of attorneys and legal assistants, who can help you understand the homeschool law in your state and will go to bat for you if a school official or other authority challenges your homeschool. Our 80,000 members—families like you!— also receive personalized advice on everything form homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with speical needs from our team of education consultants.


Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.


Last updated June 24, 2015