School…. enough to make the bravest parent take a deep breath. There’s just so much to consider! How is the quality of education? What does the curriculum look like? How big are class sizes? Should I homeschool? What resources would I have? How much is private school tuition? The list goes on and on! While ultimately it’s a very personal decision with no right or wrong answer it certainly helps to be informed.
Here in Northern NH there are many rural communities. It’s fairly common to see a regional or cooperative public school serving multiple nearby towns. In some cases even those may be small enough to accommodate K-12 in one building. Although there is an appeal to the small community school, often welcoming parental involvement, public schools are not always the best fit for every family.
Those wishing to explore private schools will certainly find options, though traveling a bit may be in the cards. The City of Berlin has one private/Christian school. Lancaster and North Conway offer Montessori schools for preschool & kindergarten children. Though a worthy option as a starting point they still leave the same dilemma of what to do for the following 12 years. Also in Lancaster there is a charter school, as well as a recently established Catholic school. There is a Waldorf school in Conway serving K-8 and a full on boarding school for grades 9-12 in Bethlehem.
Many a North Country family has decided homeschooling is best for them. There is a thriving online group, North Country Homeschoolers, where families can connect, support one another, and share ideas/resources. To homeschool legally a letter of intent must be submitted. Beyond that it is parents’ choice whether to incorporate online learning, traditional textbooks, meet with other homeschool families for shared learning time, etc. Homeschooled children may utilize public school extra-curriculars.
When considering a move to NH (well anywhere for that matter) education is, rightfully so, at the forefront of parental concerns. My suggestion to new movers: decide ahead of time what system you feel is best for your family and consider areas that meet those needs/preferences for your children’s education. If you know a Waldorf school is what you want, look at an easy commute to Conway. If you like the idea of a small cooperative public school district try to visit before you move and arrange for school tours in perspective areas. If you’re an established homeschool family take a look at what’s offered at local public schools in case any desire to play sports or join the band should arise.
I never expected to see so many options outside of major cities, but New Hampshire definitely takes childhood education seriously. Since moving I’ve met children from various school arrangements who seem bright and well adjusted. It’s reassuring as a parent to know my family has readily available options and resources for education in Northern New Hampshire.
Tiffany moved to New Hampshire as a participant in the Free State Project in August 2017. She currently organizes two monthly meetups for the North Country Porcupines and acts as a resource/contact person for new FSP movers to Northern NH.