Homeschooling in Norway offers an alternative

A flexible form of education with government oversight


Homeschooling, which is very popular in the United States, is also an option for Norwegian families. In both countries, there are strict guidelines to follow and the progress of the students is closely monitored.

David Nikel

In the United States, 3.7 million American children are homeschooled, but have you ever wondered if it is popular in Norway or even allowed?

The answer is yes, homeschooling is an option in Norway, but it’s rare. Read on to learn about how it works.

Introducing home education in Norway

Norway upholds an obligation to education rather than a requirement to attend school, placing the responsibility on parents to ensure that their children receive the fundamental education they are entitled to.

Although in practice the vast majority of parents choose to send their children to school, home education is permitted. In Norwegian, this is known as privat hjemmeundervisning.

In the case of homeschooling, parents are in charge of their children’s practical education. Education must align with national standards. As such, this is subject to oversight and inspection by the local municipality.

But why do some parents choose this option? Norsk hjemmeundervisningsforbund or the Norwegian Home School Association (NHUF) gives some of the main reasons.

These include dissatisfaction with the school environment, bullying, a lack of individualized instruction, illness or congenital conditions, long or dangerous school routes, different pedagogical directions, extended stays abroad, local school closures, religious beliefs, or participation in musical or sports activities that require significant absence from school.

Facts and figures

According to official data from Grunnskolens Informasjonssystem (GSI) or the Elementary School’s Information System, only 247 children were in home education during the school year 2022–2023. That’s down from 261 children the previous school year.

However, these figures may not be entirely accurate because of differences in how municipalities report homeschooling data and variations in homeschooling arrangements.

For instance, some children are de-registered from schools, while others retain their school places, and some use a mixture of school and homeschooling or homeschool part of the year.

NHUF maintains a record of its member families and their children, but not all homeschooled children are represented in this association, and not all NHUF family members homeschool. So, the exact number of homeschooled children in Norway remains uncertain.

Requirements for homeschooling

The structure of homeschooling is flexible, and parents enjoy a considerable degree of freedom in how they choose to educate their children. Regardless, the education must align with national curriculum standards and competence goals.

This is subject to oversight or inspection by the municipality, although there are no specific requirements for the structure of home education or the number of teaching hours per week.

In Norway, homeschooling does not require formal teacher qualifications. It does, however, demand a range of skills, good general knowledge, and a willingness to learn and explore.

Lastly, it’s important to note that there is no financial support or compensation for homeschooling in Norway. Some municipalities, however, may allow homeschooling families to borrow schoolbooks or access online learning resources.

How the oversight process works

To ensure children are receiving an adequate level of education, the local municipality will conduct a process of oversight (tilsyn) for all homeschooled children in Norway.

The municipality is obligated to supervise homeschooling, with the formal responsibility lying with the municipality and the operational responsibility with the appointed supervisor.

Legislation emphasizes that supervision should be carried out in collaboration with parents, respecting their right to educate their children according to their religious and philosophical beliefs. Just as the municipality has a duty to collaborate with the home, the home has an obligation to facilitate the supervision.

The appointed supervisor contacts the family to arrange meetings on how the supervision will be carried out, meeting the family one to two times per year. Meetings typically occur at school or another public place rather than at home.

During the supervision meeting, the family usually presents some of the work they have done since the last meeting. Some parents keep a diary documenting the child’s activities. Based on conversations with the family and familiarity with the child over time, the supervisor should be able to assess whether the education is satisfactory.

After each meeting, the supervisor prepares a report concluding whether the education is sufficient or not. This is sent to the municipality, with a copy to the home.

If there’s uncertainty about the adequacy of the homeschooling, the municipality can call for “special tests.” These tests can only be conducted after a prior supervision meeting and only if there’s doubt about the sufficiency of the homeschooling. If further supervision shows that the child is not receiving the required education, the municipality can demand that the child attend school.

This article first appeared on the blog and was reprinted with permission.

This article originally appeared in the August 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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David Nikel

David Nikel is a freelance writer based in Norway. He runs the popular website and podcast and is the author of the Moon Norway guidebook, available now in all good bookstores.