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Homeschooling
Thursday, 10 February 2011
Homeschooling in NH part 4

This series of blog entries is designed to answer the most common homeschooling question: What do I have to do in order to homeschool in NH?".  For the basic requirements, please see the prior blog Homeschooling in NH 1, 2, & 3.

Today's blog focuses on the third requirement for homeschooling in NH:  maintaining a portfolio for 2 years after the end of your homeschooling year.


Whether you choose to have a portfolio evaluation done as your evaluation method of choice or not, you need to maintain a portfolio of your child's work for 2 years after you finish the homeschool year. Since the public school year follows the schedule of September to June, many homeschoolers follow that same calendar for their own school year.  If your homeschool year follows a different time frame, for example, January to December, simply use the end of the calendar as a good marking point to collect portfolio samples for storage. Along with the samples of the child's work, you need to maintain a reading list of all books the child has read, or that were read to the child. (NH RSA 193-A:6 paragraph I) 

For younger children, a fun way to create a reading list is to cut circles of colored construction paper.  Use one of the circles to make a "worm" face and post it on a bulletin board or refrigerator.  Each time your child reads a book, take one of the circles and add the book's name and author to the circle and add the circle to the "worm".  By the end of the year your "book worm" will contain all the books your child has read.  Simply gather the circles, clip them together and add the stack to your portfolio.  Reading list accomplished!

To maintain my portfolio requirements, I have 3 plastic storage boxes that are slightly larger than regular printer paper and can hold more than 2 reams of 8.5 x 11 inch paper.  The first storage box is my portfolio for the school year before last.  The second storage box is for last year's portfolio.  The third box is for this year of school.  As we finish each school section (unit study, school quarter, etc), I take a few papers for each subject and place them in the box along with any tests of major papers, or projects.  When we do our standardized testing, my choice for evaluation, I put the results in the front of the storage box, so it provides a date reference for the box's school year.  The plastic boxes are clear enough to see the test results page through the outside of the box.  At the end of the school year, I clean out the first storage box.  I may save the test results of projects that I feel will have value in the future, such as a photo essay about a field trip we took.  These permanent record types of files go into another storage box along with similar items from previous years.  This first storage box is now empty and ready to receive next year's papers.


Posted by manchnh-homeschoolers at 7:49 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 10 February 2011 7:51 AM EST
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Homeschooling in NH part 3

This series of blog entries is designed to answer the most common homeschooling question: What do I have to do in order to homeschool in NH?".  For the basic requirements, please see the prior blog Homeschooling in NH  parts 1 & 2.

Today's blog focuses on the first two of the three legal requirements to homeschooling in NH, providing a notification letter and an end of the year evaluation to your participating agency.


1. Providing a Notification Letter to your PA

Provide a notification letter to your PA within 5 days of starting your homeschooling program, removing your child from school, or the start of the school year.  This notification letter needs to contain the following information:  (1) your child's name, (2) your child's date of birth, and (3) your address along with the fact that you will be homeschooling for the current school year.  That is all the letter needs to contain. Some families like to include a limiting paragraph that they do not give permission for anyone to use the education information of their child for any other purpose than recording the child as a homeschooler.  (NH RSA 193-A:5 paragraphs Ia & II)

2.  Provide an Evaluation to your PA by July 1st following the end of the school calendar.

Provide an evaluation to your PA by July 1st following the end of the school calendar.  This evaluation can be in one of 4 forms:  (1) a portfolio evaluation done by a certified teacher that shows progress in line with the child's age and ability, (2) a nationally recognized standardized exam with a composite score at the 40th percentile or higher, (3) a state student assessment used by the resident school district with a composite score at the 40th percentile or higher, or (4) any method of evalution agreed upon between the parents and the participating agency.  (NH RSA 193-A:6 paragraph II)

Any of the four choices is a valid option for evaluating your child.  The most important thing you can do for a successful evaluation is to match the evaluation method to your child's abilities and your homeschool goals.  One parent I know became very discouraged when her daughter went into their local school to take a standardized test with the resident school district (option 3).  The results were much lower than she expected and she realized that this test was the first time her daughter had physically stepped into a public school.  Her daughter was overwhelmed by the experince of being in a "real" school and was not concentrating on the test.  Of course her scores were lower than her parent expected.  By the time she retested in the spring, her scores were back to their previously high levels.

Standardized exams have uses beyond the end of the year evaluation.  Some parents use standardized exams to measure their child's abilities at the start of the school year to determine the gaps in the child's knowledge.  This gives them a road map for teaching during the year.  Some parents like to measure their children against the national standards for a personal reality check on their homeschooling program. 

Portfolio evaluations offer a less formal method for evaluation.  This process also takes into account any special needs your child may have with their education.  It is an especially good measure for children who do not take timed tests well or children who may work below grade level in one or more subjects.  There are many evaluators available to provide the service.  Some want to meet the child involved.  Some only want to review the child's portfolio of work.  The best way to choose an evaluator is to interview several evaluators early in the school year and find one that matches your homeschooling philosophy and methodology so that they will be in sync with your teaching methods and the contents of the portfolio. 

 


Posted by manchnh-homeschoolers at 8:38 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 9 February 2011 8:39 AM EST
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Homeschooling in NH Part 2

This series of blog entries is designed to answer the most common homeschooling question: What do I have to do in order to homeschool in NH?".  For the basic requirements, please see the prior blog entry Homeschooling in NH.

Today's blog focuses on the participating agency, how to select one, and how they fit into your homeschooling plan.

What is a participating agency?  Your participating agency (PA) is one of the following:  your local school district, a private school, or the Department of Education in Concord, NH.  The PA provides a record that you are a  homeschooling family, acknowledges your notification letter, and receives your evaluation at the end of the school year.  (NH RSA 193-A:5 paragraph Ib)

It is easiest to use your local school district.  They provide the service free of charge and they are usually close to your location, so an in person visit is more convenient.  There is no need for an in person visit.  However, if confusion arises, sometimes an in person relationship with your local school can help smooth the way.  It is also useful to use the local school district if you have any plans to introduce your children into the local school system either as full time students in the future or as part time students for special classes such as art, music, or extra curricular sports.   In that case, a working relationship with your local school can mean the difference between access to part time special classes or not. 

In some cases, using the local school district may not be feasible.  Perhaps you have had a difficult history with the local school district and that situation lead to your homeschooing in the first place.  In these situations, a private school is a good alternative.  Private schools can act as a PA for a homeschooling family.  They may charge for their services, so if costs are a consideration, it may not be the best fit for your family.  Also, private schools are not as likely to allow your student to participate in special classes unless you pay their tuition costs.

It is legal to use the Department of Education (DOE) in Concord, NH as your participating agency.  However, it is generally discouraged since their office is very small and the workload of processing homeschooling notification letters and evaluations may overwhelm their office.  I would only recommend using their office as a last resort solution.

 


Posted by manchnh-homeschoolers at 8:12 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 8 February 2011 8:14 AM EST
Monday, 7 February 2011
Homeschooling in NH

This series of blog entries is designed to answer the most common homeschooling question: What do I have to do in order to homeschool in NH?.

Today's blog focuses on the 3 basic things required by the Homeschooling laws in the State of NH to legally homeschool. Future blogs will go into each of these requirements in more detail.

The most common question asked at homeschool meetings by new homeschoolers is; "What do I have to do in order to homeschool in NH?"  Because this question is the key to getting started as an official homeschooler, I thought it would be the best topic for our first blog entry.

To homeschool in NH, you need to do three things:  (1) notify your participating agency that you are a homeschooling family, (2) provide some form of evaluation to your participating agency by July 1st at the end of the school year calendar, and (3) maintain a portfolio of the child's work for 2 years after completing the school year.  (Reference NH Law online:  http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xv/193-a/193-a-mrg.htm)

I'll go into more detail for each of these requirements in future blogs.


Posted by manchnh-homeschoolers at 1:35 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 7 February 2011 1:37 PM EST

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