Homeschooling in NZ

Homeschooling in New Zealand

Homeschooling in New Zealand (NZ) is a legal option that is supported by a small government allowance. In 2021 there were 8306 students registered for homeschooling in NZ. This is a little over 1% of the NZ school population.

Since the 1970s homeschooling has become a viable alternative to education. Numbers have stayed steady but the Covid pandemic saw homeschooling in NZ numbers increase dramatically. Whilst application numbers have dropped in 2022 the numbers are double the pre-covid numbers.

17 FAQs Answered For Homeschooling In New Zealand

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is a broad term used for many different types of home education. Put simply homeschooling is full time education out of the traditional school classroom. It is often done at home but is also done within the community or whilst travelling. The primary responsibility for the education is taken by the parent.

When homeschooling in New Zealand the parent is responsible for planning the child’s education. You can still use purchased curriculum, but you choose it. You teach your child and do the assessments. You do not hand in work to a school. You are in control of your schedule. Whilst parents may use tutors for some subjects the primary responsibility is the parents.

Homeschooling can be done in different ways and for more discussion about this see our article about different homeschool methods.

Please Note: In New Zealand there is a distinction made between homeschooling and distance learning school. When you are with a distance learning school, you are accountable to a school. You apply to the school to enrol, and you do not need to apply to homeschool. Your child is still a school student and not technically home educated. The school determines the curriculum.

Can I homeschool in New Zealand?

Yes you can!

Today there is a lot of support for parents wanting to homeschool. If you want to DIY your curriculum you can, but you can also get support from a community like My Homeschool that does the curriculum for you.

You do not need to be a school teacher to apply, you just need to be a parent or the legal guardian.

Find out what makes a good homeschool teacher.

Is homeschooling in New Zealand legal?


Legally children in New Zealand between the ages of 6 to 16 need to be at school or home educated. From 15 children can leave school but they need to apply for an Early Leaving Exemption.

When you apply to homeschool in New Zealand, you actually apply for a Certificate of Exemption from Enrolment at your local Regional Office. The process takes about 6 weeks.

Full details of what is needed for a homeschool application can be found on the NZ Government Education website.

You cannot approved for an exemption to homeschool in New Zealand if you are not living in New Zealand.

Is unschooling allowed in New Zealand?

Unschooling is just another homeschool method. However, you still need to provide an educational plan with your exemption application no matter what homeschooling method you use.

Is it hard to get an exemption to home educate?

The initial application does take some time understand but many successfully apply and are accepted. Some organisations, like My Homeschool, provide templates to make it easier. 

The application form asks parents to provide details on their child’s individual needs, educational approach or philosophy the parent will use and what curriculum and resources they plan on using.

This is a once off process and your exemption expires if you enrol in school. A back-to-school trial of up to 10 weeks is permitted without the need to reapply for an exemption if you begin homeschooling again.

Reviews can be conducted by the Education Review Office. There is no specific timeline for these reviews, and they are not always done. You would need to liaise with your local school district for more specific details on their processes regarding this.

Overseas travel is permitted for homeschooling however the Home Education Supervision allowance changes if you are overseas for more than 28 days.

My child is at school but can I swap to homeschool them?

Absolutely. Homeschooling is available to all students. You just need to apply. You can move to homeschooling at any time of year. 

If your child is at a private school, you can still remove them at any time but you usually need to give a terms notice regarding the fees. This may mean you still pay fees for a term even if your child has left, but some schools may waiver this right.

Can I send them back to school later if I need to?

Yes you can send your child back to school after homeschooling. You just apply to the specific school you want to go to and you are treated like a new student application. The same conditions will apply to you like any new students.

Some schools will request to see a portfolio of work completed to help them with class placement but this is not a requirement.

A back-to-school trial of up to 10 weeks is permitted without the need to reapply for an exemption if you begin homeschooling again.

Do I have to use a specific curriculum?

There is no set curriculum that you need when homeschooling in New Zealand. However, you will be asked on your application how you intend to homeschool, and if a review is conducted you will also be asked to give evidence of the education you are providing.

Your application for exemption requires you to prepare a learning plan. It’s your choice how you put your lessons together. You can DIY all your resources and curriculum if you want, but most new homeschoolers prefer to purchase packaged curricula when they start.

The main requirement is that a child educated at home should be taught well and regularly – at least as well as they would be taught if in a registered school.

Various homeschooling methods are popular in New Zealand. Some like a traditional workbook approach, Charlotte Mason homeschooling and unschooling are also popular.

When buying NZ homeschool curriculum from other countries such as Australia or the USA, it is worth noting that grade names are different internationally. See this table to see grades and ages for international schools.

International School Grade Comparison Chart

Can I homeschool in high school?

Yes, you can homeschool your child at any time during their education. Homeschooling through high school without teacher training can be done successfully. Here are some ideas on teaching subjects that scare you.

Do homeschoolers do exams?

Homeschoolers are not required to do exams to keep home educating. Many homeschool resources include tests and quizzes. You can also make up your own exams. Many homeschoolers assess their children as they go or provide Charlotte Mason style exams.

Does my child need a high school qualification?

You don’t need a high school qualification to complete homeschooling. It depends what the reason is that you are wanting the qualification. If you don’t need a high school qualification to enter your chosen career path then you may choose to skip this qualification.

However there are various options available to homeschool students who want a high school qualification.

For a complete list of alternative high school options see here. 

Can my child go to university if they are homeschooled?

Yes.  There are many stories of children getting into university including the harder courses like medicine and astrophysics. At My Homeschool we include resources to help your child prepare for university entry.

How do I start homeschooling in New Zealand?

Here are 5 quick tips:

  1. Determine your motives for homeschooling. This will affect so many of your choices. It will give you a great starting point.
  2. Make a simple start. Don’t be afraid to buy a curriculum package at first. Get samples when possible. It is probably a cheaper option than DIY in the long run and you can usually find some support at the same time. Curriculum packages have already streamlined the process so you won’t feel so overwhelmed comparing all your options.
  3. Watch how you like to teach and how your child learns. This will help you make decisions in the future.
  4. Be prepared to make some sacrifices. Homeschooling takes a considerable commitment for it to work, especially in the early days.
  5. Try to take your focus off academics and on to establishing good habits and close family relationships. Academics will fall into place. Homeschooling is not school at home – it is a lifestyle.

See our How to Start Homeschooling article for more direction.

How much does cost when homeschooling in New Zealand?
Most countries offer little financial help to homeschool, however when homeschooling in New Zealand you can apply for the Home Education Supervision Allowance. This is paid after your application has been processed.

2023 allowance:

  • first child $769.00
  • second child $654.00
  • third child $536.00
  • subsequent children $385.00

Homeschooling is cheaper than private school. Curriculum and other activities such as swimming lessons, art supplies, music tuition, and excursions will still need to be paid for.

Here is a breakdown of particular costs using different learning styles.

To find out more details about allowances see Cynthia Cox.

How do homeschoolers make friends?

There are now a large number of homeschool groups in New Zealand and many opportunities for your child to make friends. However, it takes time to make new friends so it can take a few events before your child feels comfortable in a new settings.

Places to Start:

  • Homeschool groups – see if you can find one in your local area
  • Community groups – scouts, sports, choirs
  • Church youth groups

Benefits of homeschool socialisation

  • Promotes loving sibling friendships
  • Positive socialisation with other families and adults
  • Friendships based on common interests without peer group pressure
  • Fun learning adventures with other homeschooling groups
How do you homeschool with more than one child?

Many large families choose to homeschool. It can often be easier because they have playmates during the school days. When families homeschool they often report their children become very close. Here are some ideas on combining lessons.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling?

Some of the perceived disadvantages are that the educating parent needs to sacrifice too much to homeschool their child. Other complaints include socialisation, lack of quality teachers and poor outcomes. Here is a list of pros and cons.

Homeschooling In NZ With My Homeschool

My Homeschool is very much a curriculum that New Zealanders can use. We already have a few Kiwis using our program.

One thing to note is that in New Zealand your Year 1 is our Kindergarten in Australia, so you will need to use the grade below the one you would normally use in New Zealand. Australia still has the same amount of school years. But in New Zealand you graduate high school at Year 13 and in Australia they graduate in Year 12.

Our My Homeschool Curriculum only goes to Year 11 New Zealand (Year 10 Australia).

You’ll find there is a lot of overlap with NZ and Australia and so we certainly have a lot there for you. Since there is no specific requirement to use a particular curriculum choosing My Homeschool is a good option for many reasons.

Shared Stories & Seasons

Australia and New Zealand share many stories, history and cultural perspectives. We also share a seasonal approach to nature study.

Global Perspective

My Homeschool offers a Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum that includes lots of Global Goodies. For example, you will find world history and geography in all the primary years.

New Zealand Content

We have a reasonable amount of NZ homeschooling content in our curriculum. We include NZ literature, NZ nature study, some NZ civics. We don’t cover a lot of specific NZ history but we do have some when it overlaps with Australia. There isn’t any Māori content. However, you can source that from a library – ask your librarian.

Documentation Help

On the purchase of a course, you are provided with a planning template, Scope and Sequence, and Weekly Planner to help you plan out your year ahead with ease and confidence. This will make your homeschool application/exemption very easy as we have already done most of the work for you.

Homeschool Support

My Homeschool is based in NSW Australia. We offer support to our members with a community forum and from time to time we have live workshops that work for New Zealand families due to the time difference only being around 2 hours. You can even book a call. See our contact page.

More Help For Homeschooling In New Zealand

Find more information on New Zealand support groups and online networking with National Council of Home Education in New Zealand. 

For Christian homeschooling information relevant to New Zealanders please see the Home Education Foundation.

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