What is NHUF?
NHUF - Norsk hjemmeundervisningsforbund (Norwegian association for home education) is a national association dedicated to organizing Norwegian home educators, and be a source of information about home education in Norway.
What is private homeschooling/home education in Norway?
In Norway it is education that is obligatory, not school and not teaching per se. It is the parents' responsibility to ensure that children receive the education they have a right to. Parents can accomplish this by enrolling the children in a public school, a private school or by homeschooling. Homeschooling means that the parents administer the education of their own children.
(Note that the Norwegian term hjemmeundervisning literally means "home teaching". This leads to some confusion among school authorities who use the term for online school assignments and/or for situations in which the school might send a teacher home to a chronically ill child. This is why we encourage using the term privat hjemmeundervisning.)
Homeschooling should be of comparable quality to public education. The Education Law grants freedom of method in education, but the goal of the education is the same and described in the state curricula and syllabi læreplanene.
There are many reasons why a family may choose homeschooling for a shorter or longer period; stress at school, bullying, lack of adjustment to the child's needs, illness or handicap, distance to the nearest school, various educational philosophies, extended travel, closing a village school, religion, or especially time consuming artistic or sports activity.
How many are homeschooled?
In the elementary and middle school information system, the following numbers are reported: 2022/2023 - 241 children are homeschooled in Norway. Previous years have had: 151 children in the school year 2017/2018, 184 in 2018/2019, 226 in 2019/2020, 273 in 2020/21 and 261 in 2021/2022.
These numbers are not necessarily an accurate reflection of reality due to a number of factors. There are differences in how the various kommunes report their numbers of homeschoolers, some families have part time school and part time homeschooling, and some families register for school or for homeschooling after GSI's deadline in October.
Furthermore, NHUF is only aware of member families and which children in those families are homeschooled. NHUF considers preschool children to be homeschooled also, even though they are not counted in the public statistics. The Norwegian homeschool community also counts teenagers, high school students (videregående elever), as homeschooled even though they are not legally obliged to continue their education beyond the age of 16. Lastly, not all homeschoolers in Norway are NHUF members.
What is evaluation (tilsyn)?
The kommune is required to evaluate homeschooling.
The actual evaluation meeting will be conducted by a teacher, but the responsibility for the evaluation is the kommune's. The parents' preferences will be considered when negotiating the location and method of evaluation. Mutual trust will enable an effective evaluation. Naturally, the evaluator should be someone whom both the kommune and the family have confidence in.
The school/kommune is required to respect the parents' right to educate their children according to the family's religious and philosophical convictions.
The evaluation procedure
After the kommune has chosen an evaluator, this teacher will contact the family to arrange a meeting at which the evaluation details wil be discussed. Thereafter, an evaluation will occur once ro twice per school year. It is important to have the same evaluator for as long as possible. Normally, the evaluation meetings will be at school, or another public place such as the local library or community center. A home visit is not part of the evaluation, unless the family prefers to have the evaluation at home.
During the evaluation meeting, the family should offer examples of work and projects that have been accomplished since the last evaluation. Some parents keep a diary in which they document what the child has been working on.
Based upon conversations with the family, and growing familiarity with the child, the evaluator will decide whether the education is good enough. It is important to follow the individual child's learning curve, and to remember that there exist enormous differences in what children learn at what age. The most helpful evaluations follow the child over time.
After each evaluation, the teacher will write a report concluding with whether the education is adequate. One copy of the report goes to the kommune and another to the family.
If there is doubt as to whether the child's education is progressing adequately, the kommune can summon the child for special testing. These tests can only be administered after an earlier evaluation, and only if there is doubt as to whether the homeschooling is adequate. Regular school tests are not a usual part of the evaluation unless the family requests them.
If a subsequent evaluation determines that the child is not progressing adequately, the kommune can require that the child begin attending school.
The Sveio model of evaluation
1. The evaluator ensures that the homeschooling has a certain degree of structure.
2. The evaluator ensures that there is a certain degree of planning in the education.
3. The evaluator ensures that the homeschooling includes the main topics in the core subjects for the child's grade.
4. The evaluator ensures that conditions for homeschooling are present.
5. The evaluator is not required to advise the parents, but may do so.
6. The Head of Schools in the kommune will receive a written report after each evaluation. The report will constitute a brief summary of the above points.
The kommune's obligations
To conduct an evaluation in collaboration with the parents.
The kommune is responsible for conducting evaluation, but can delegate the evaluation job to the child's neighborhood school or another appropriate teacher. The evaluating teacher should be familiar with homeschooling and be interested in the child's learning.
The kommune's evaluation of (the child's) education should ensure that the child is attaining the education goals as specified in the Education Law. Furthermore, the education should encompass the central topics in the core subjects for the grade as specified in the national curriculum. The kommune cannot require that home education follow a school-like structure. Such an expectation would violate the parents' right to decide their children's education, and could also violate the child's right to individually adjusted and adapted education. However, if evaluation indicates that the child is not receiving adequate education, as specified and intended in the Education Law, the kommune can require more structured education and possibly administer special tests.
A home visit (or inspection) is not a part of the evaluation, unless the family wishes it. (For example, families who live on farms may wish to show the evaluator farming or construction projects that the child has been working on.) The best place to conduct the evaluation is at the school, a public library or another place where the child is comfortable.
The evaluator should be chosen in collaboration with the family. The family may request a different evaluator if productive cooperation with the kommune's chosen evaluator is not possible. There is no requirement that the evaluator be from the child's neighborhood school.
The most important factor in evaluation is that the evaluating teacher and the family have a mutually respectful relationship with trust and the child's learning as the primary focus.
Notify the kommune that you are starting homeschooling.
Homeschooling may not begin before the kommune (or school) has been notified. But after you have notified the kommune (or school), you can begin homeschooling immediately without waiting for a response from the kommune (or school).
Become familiar with the national curriculum and follow it.
Parents need have no formal qualifications to homeschool their own children, but must have a certain amount of general knowledge, and be able to learn and research different topics. Homeschooling is a serious responsibility, and parents need the motivation and intiative to perform the role they have taken upon themselves. Paragraph 1-3 in the Education Law requires that children receive individually adapted and adjusted education.
Collaboration with the kommune regarding evaluation
The parents should facilitate the conduct of the evaluation as much as possible. The most important factor is that the evaluator and the family develop mutual respect and trust with the child's education as the primary focus.
The national curriculum
The national curriculum comprises a general part, annual/weekly hours per subject, and a syllabus for each subject. These are addenda to the Education Law and constitute guidelines for teaching in schools. Hours per subject, as well as divisions between subjects do not apply to homeschoolers.
The national curriculum includes goals which specify what the child should know by the completion of certain school grades. There are goals which apply to the completion of years 2, 4, 7, and 10. (Children are usually 7 years old at the beginning of year 2, and 15 years old at the beginning of year 10.)
Since homeschoolers are free to choose which educational method best suits their child, the goals are of great importance. The goals should be reached over time, not necessarily precisely in the prescribed year/age.
How to start home-educating in Norway
All that you are required to do initially is to notify your local authority of your intention to home-educate. You do not have to apply or seek permission, only to notify them of your intentions. You can find a model letter by clicking on the link to the right on this page.
However, before you post your letter you need to read the information here under 'Legal requirements.' For children aged 7 or older, you are obliged to take their opinions into consideration on matters that significantly affect their lives. The opinions of children aged 12 or older must be accorded even greater consideration. You also need to know who exactly is going to be responsible for their education and how you are going to meet the child's needs for friendship, activities and play.
Further, you need to acquaint yourself with the national curriculum and the targets in each subject. See this link for further information: https://www.udir.no/in-english/
Be aware that when you chose to home-educate, the local authority is under no obligation to reserve a place in a particular class or school for your child /children. They are only required to offer them a place somewhere in the kommune if they choose to return to school at a later date.
The local authority is obliged to monitor the education you provide for your child / children (this is called 'tilsyn'). Focus on establishing a good working relationship with the local authority about this. Our experience is that it can be a good idea to take a neutral observer, e.g. someone from NHUF, along with you to your first meeting with the school / local authority. This often solves potential problems that can arise from a difference in culture and understanding.
Here is the link to the Act relating to Primary and Secondary Education and Training (the Education Act). Please refer to the Norwegian text for notes on relevant chapters.
Do you have to be a teacher in order to home-educate?
The answer is no. There are no particular formal requirements. However, the reality is that home-educators need to be good at a variety of things or know where to access the skills or learning provision their children need. All parents have 'gaps' just as schools often lack outstanding provision in all areas – home educators are also open to learning and exploring new topics alongside their children.
Do you have to apply?
No, you do not have to apply to home-educate. Home-education is legally equivalent to a private or state school education. You must, however, notify the local authority that you intend to begin home-educating.
Is flexi-schooling permitted?
Some parents want to combine home-eduation with some schooling. The Ministry has made it clear that local authorities and schools are under no obligation to facilitate this, but neither is flexi-schooling prohibited. So individual families may be able to negotiate a solution with their local school.
There are many examples of flexi-schooling working well for shorter or longer periods. Some schools allow children to take part in certain subjects for a few hours or days per week, or allow them to join in excursions or festivities like 17th May, theatre productions, camps etc.
It is important to be aware that flexi-schooling is not the same thing in law as home-education. Most often the school retains formal responsibility for the child's education and there is no mandatory inspection (tilsyn) of the education received in the home.
Is there any financial support?
No, no financial support is available for home-education.
Families have no rights to claim for any expenditure or even to borrow textbooks. Some local authorities, however, are helpful and will allow home-educators to borrow books or to have access to online teaching resources.
What about college (16+)?
Young people who have completed their (lower) secondary education also have the right to 3 years of college education (16-19 ie. 6th form college or college of vocational training) in accordance with §3.1 of the Education Act. This right entails entry to one of three preferred programmes. However, you do not have the right to a place at a particular school.
Home-educated children have no right to grades, but receive a letter of confirmation from the school responsible for mandatory inspection that they have completed their compulsory education. With this letter of confirmation, home-educated children can apply for 6th form or vocational college in the normal way.
As mentioned, however, you are not guaranteed a place at the college of your choice or on your first choice of course as entry is competitive.
Families can choose to continue to home-educate and to gain the qualifications required for university entry as private candidates. Each exam costs around NOK 1000 (NOK 2000 for a second attempt). In order to qualify for university entry, exams must be taken in every subject, both oral and written – in other words, between 22 – 24 exams in total. That is why some HE children start to take these exams at the age of 14-15.
Some HE children do a combination of these things – ie. they do a number of exams as a private candidate and then apply for college entry. This does not give them any advantage in the application process. The advantage is exemption from these subjects whilst at college and time freed up to concentrate on remaining subjects. It is important to note, however, that young people who have already finished some exams will not be considered as full-time students by the state loan fund (Lånekassen).
Some teens choose to work or go to Folk High School after compulsory education. If you wait until you are 23 to continue your education, you can benefit from the 'six-pack' rule – ie. you only have to take exams in six subjects in order to qualify for university entry. But you also have to prove that you have spent the previous 5 years doing something 'sensible.' This is called the 23/5 rule.
Some universities offer dispensations from this university entry certification (studiekompetanse). This depends on the course. See Rules on Higher Education
If you are granted a dispensation and then successfully complete a course of 60 ECTS, you automatically gain university entry certification. This means that you can apply for other university courses.
How many home-educated children are there in Norway?
The official number is 151 children in 2017/18, 184 children in 2018/19, 226 children in 2019/20, 273 children 2020/21 and 261 children in 2021/22.
In our experience, however, this number is not entirely correct. There are several reasons for this: for example, differences in the way local authorities report numbers of home-educators, or flexi-schooling or HE that last less than a school year etc.
NHUF knows its members. Not all members home-educate all of their children, and some are home-educating children above or below the range of compulsory education (these children are then not officially registered as HE). Not all home-educators in Norway are members of NHUF. The exact number of home-educators in Norway is thus unknown.
When and for how long can you home-educate?
You can begin whenever you like. You don't have to wait until the end or the beginning of the school year. There is no minimum or maximum length of time. You can choose to home-educate for a few weeks or for the the entirety of your children's compulsory education.
However, if you are only wanting to home-educate for a short time e.g. in conjunction with a holiday or travel we recommend that you apply for leave from the school. The reason for this is that you may wish to retain your child's place at the same school and in the same class (this is something you lose when you de-register your child for home-education). Mandatory inspection does not have to be arranged for a short period of home-education.
Can i homeschool in my own language?
There is no legal obstacle for homeschooling all subjects in other languages than Norwegian, but depending on the kommune/tilsyn you might have to also provide lessons in Norwegian/Norwegian literature. Some foreign families have had no problems at all, some have faced quarrelsome schools/kommune that insist on Norwegian being the primary language.
If your family is in Norway for a limited time, most schools understands. You will still most likely be challenged on how you will go about integrating the children in Norwegian society when they don't go to school. This can of course be solved by evening activities like sports, music etc