5 Tips for Transferring to a Virtual School Midyear
Last year, about roughly 40 million Americans moved at least once—and many children had to transfer schools. While many move over the summer so kids can start new schools in the fall, others switch midyear, often because of parent job changes or economic challenges. Additionally, some parents opt to change schools midyear because their child is bored, has health or social issues, or isn’t getting the individualized attention he or she needs.
A number of families moving schools midyear are turning to virtual schools. The reason is twofold. First, more families have embraced virtual education. According to the Evergreen Education Group’s Keeping Pace with K–12 Online Learning report, more than a quarter of a million American students in grades K–12 now get all or some of their education virtually. Second, the format of virtual school eases the student’s adjustment period as well as the physical transition for both student and family.
With a little advance planning, transferring to a virtual school can be easy, and the student can soon achieve both academic and emotional success in the new school. If your family is thinking about this change, consider these tips to ensure a seamless transition for your child.
- Insist on Quality; Not All Virtual Schools Are Created Equal
Do your homework to be sure you’re picking a high-quality virtual school. High-quality virtual schools employ professional and certified/licensed teachers and school counselors. Make sure the school offers an accredited program with a wide range of courses, and a proven curriculum developed by professional educators. Talk to parents with students currently enrolled in the school.
- Plan Ahead
Research shows that students are more successful when they change schools at the beginning of a quarter or semester. Find out when the grading period ends in your child’s current school and when the new one starts. Use this info to set a target start date for the new school. Of course, sometimes life throws you a curve ball—like surprise job changes or family matters. In that case, reach out to the virtual school’s guidance and enrollment officials so they can help you navigate the school switch smoothly.
- Get Your Paperwork in Order
It can take a while to complete the enrollment process at a virtual school, so parents should start sooner rather than later. Check with enrollment officials at the new school for admission deadlines and a list of required documents, which could include:
- application forms
- birth certificate
- immunization records
- other state-specific paperwork
- Pay Attention to Transfer Credits
Many schools don’t mail fall semester report cards until the spring semester, making it tricky for some parents to prove course completion and to get students’ credits transferred to the new school. Parents facing this situation should check with their new school’s enrollment counselors to find out what other, alternative paperwork they can supply, and then they should request it from the previous school.
- Maintain an Open Dialogue
Easing a midyear transition doesn’t end once your child has all of his or her books and supplies and has started classes. Be sure to listen carefully and address your child’s questions and concerns. And continue to communicate with school staff regularly. Teachers, counselors, and administrators are there to help. Maintaining an open dialogue with them is key to a smooth transition to virtual school.
As you contemplate a fresh start for your child, please use this information to guide you in making an informed decision—and an easy transition to virtual schooling. We hope that in the New Year, you, like many families, will find that this rewarding change not only enhances your child’s education, but also enriches family togetherness.
What unique and creative tips can you offer for easing the transition to virtual school?