Kindergarten Requirements for the State of New Hampshire
Although full-day kindergarten is not required according to New Hampshire state statute, there has been a trend toward incorporating such programs in districts across the state. In addition, Kindergarten Readiness Indicators (NH KRI) have been put in place to establish readiness standards for new kindergartners. Here are the top laws and requirements for students entering kindergarten in the state of New Hampshire.
Kindergarten Not Mandatory
Kindergarten attendance is not legally mandatory in the state of New Hampshire. However, school districts are required to offer at least a half-day kindergarten program to their students. In addition, kindergarten sessions are required by statute to be at least 2.5 hours per day for 180 days per school year.
Full-Day Kindergarten Not Required
School districts in New Hampshire are not required to provide full-day kindergarten programs and an Education Week study published in 2015 found that below 60 percent of New Hampshire’s kindergarten students were enrolled in full-day programs.
Educational Standards: Common Core
Common Core standards were adopted by the New Hampshire Board of Education in July 2010 and were implemented in the 2014–2015 school year. This state led effort—called the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative—focuses on establishing standards in the area of English language arts/literacy and mathematics. These standards are meant to establish a road map for kindergarten through 12th grade for what students should be able to know and demonstrate.
Current Age Requirements
Compulsory school age in New Hampshire is by age 6. However, individual kindergarten entrance ages are cited as an LEA decision, which means that the decision is left to individual school boards at the local level.
Early Entry Rules
An early entrance option is not specified in New Hampshire statute. Rather, like kindergarten entrance ages, this is left to the discretion of local school boards.
Required Immunizations and Available Exemptions
In order to attend school in New Hampshire, students must have proof of all required immunizations (or a valid exemption as discussed below). Required immunizations include DTaP, polio, MMR, hepatitis B, and varicella. See the list of require vaccinations here.
New Hampshire offers students the opportunity for both medical and religious exemptions. To receive an exemption for medical reasons, written documentation is needed from a licensed physician or authorized healthcare provider that certifies that the immunization may be detrimental to the child’s health. In addition, the exemption is only valid for the length of time indicated by the physician. Religious exemptions can be granted once the parents or guardian sign a notarized form explaining those religious beliefs. During an outbreak of communicable disease in which immunization is required, exempted children may not attend school.
Pre-Entrance Testing/Screening Requirements
In New Hampshire, no pre-kindergarten assessment is required. However, there are Kindergarten Readiness Indicators (NH KRI) in place to establish a standard regarding what children should know and be able to do as they enter kindergarten.
Maximum Teacher to Pupil Ratio
New Hampshire’s education code imposes class size restrictions for all grades, including kindergarten. According to state statute, each classroom in grades K–2 must have 25 students or less in them. However, the goal is 1 teacher to 20 students.
All of these laws and requirements are reviewed in great detail on the state of New Hampshire’s Department of Education website.