Welcome to the world of homeschooling!
What is homeschooling? Homeschooling is when a parent takes full responsibility for providing education for their child. For many homeschoolers, this means being taught at home. For others, it means learning at a cooperative school, or even learning from several places all at once. Some attend public school for some subjects - or even just go there for lunch to visit with their friends. Each program is unique to the child, and is decided upon by the parent. See also:Access Eric.
Can I homeschool? Are you a concerned parent? Are you capable of providing a letter once a year to the state, notifying them of your intent to homeschool? Can you arrange to have your child evaluated once a year? Yes? Great...you can homeschool!
Do I have to be a certified teacher, or become accredited in any way? No. Here in NH, all you have to be is a concerned parent, willing to take on the responsibility of providing your child's education.
How do I start? You likely already have! You were your child's first teacher, and already have what it takes for your child to learn. Legally, all you need to do is notify your district of your intent to homeschool, and spend some time with your child, and you've already begun. We even have a sample notification letter online. The NH Department of Education as information on home eduction that is useful to review.
Where do I get curriculum and books?From curriculum providers, libraries, and bookstores all around you. See our Curriculum section.
How do I know which type of curriculum to use? Trial and Error. If your child is already in public school, and is struggling with their methods, try something different. If they're doing well, try something similar. If what you try first doesn't work out, or doesn't seem to be doing what you intended, reassess, and try again. Every child, and every parent is different. One of the distinct advantages of homeschooling is that the parent, who knows their child much better than even the best teacher, can cater closely to what the child responds best with. Ask any homeschooler and you're likely to hear a long litany of what worked, and what *didn't* work, with this child or that child...there's no one correct answer.
What about socialization? You'll hear this one a lot once you start homeschooling, so it's good to think it through before you begin. Simply put, which would you rather your children learned socialization from: random children their own age who are from various backgrounds and life experiences; or people of all ages in their own family and social circles? Which will help build their self esteem? Which will most benefit their ability to communicate and relate to other people?
Can I use the public school system? You may choose to use your local public school system for some subjects, or be "dual enrolled". Read the homeschooling study on dual enrollment for more info.
Why do people homeschool? Because of many reasons. Some choose to homeschool because of religious reasons, or because they feel their children are being taught immorally by the public school system. Others choose it because they feel they can do a better job teaching their child than the public school system. Some homeschool for convenience - either they move around a lot, or their child doesn't necessarilly fit the "average" mold and falls through the educational cracks somehow. There are almost as many reasons to homeschool as there are homeschoolers themselves.
My child is gifted - is homeschooling a good idea? YES! See "Homeschooling the Highly Gifted" and the Hollingworth Center..
What is a portfolio?A portfolio is simply an ongoing collection of work done by the student, that indicates progresses made throughout the learning process. See Chris Hamilton's pamphlet for more info on portfolios and evaluations.
How do we evaluate? Here in NH, we have many choices. The primary choices are testing of various types, portfolio reviews, and a personal review done by a teacher certified by the state of NH. Simply work out a mutually agreeable way for your evaluation to take place with your principal.
How can I learn more? Read through this site and it's various offerings. Join our NHHR-L mailing list, and post questions, listen in on what other new homeschoolers are asking. Find a homeschooler in your area and visit them, ask them your questions and see what they do. If you belong to a church, don't forget to check with your congregation to see if they have already formed a homeschool group. Ask your local librarian what she can point you to. Pick up a homeschooling magazine or one of the books in our bookstore on homeschooling.
What is my SAU? Check out the New Hampshire School Administrative Units list.