It’s estimated that 11% of Americans moved during the pandemic. Whether driven by the newfound ability to work remotely from anywhere, low interest rates, or seeking states with more – or fewer –COVID-19 restrictions, millions of Americans decided it was time for a change of scenery – and they haven’t stopped. For families with school-aged kids, moves across town or across the country means many children have to transfer schools.
Traditionally, families plan their move over the summer so their kids are settled in time for the first day of school in the fall. That isn’t always possible though, causing kids to transfer schools midyear. 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 they need.
Many families transferring schools midyear are turning to online schools for several reasons. While the number of students enrolled in online schools was growing before the pandemic, many families—especially Connections Academy families—discovered the benefits of online school during the pandemic, and now they embrace virtual learning for their students.
The format of virtual school eases the student’s transition from one school to another. And with a little advanced planning, transferring to an online school can be easy, and the student can soon achieve both academic and social and emotional success. If your family is thinking about making the switch, here are some tips to help with a seamless transition to online school.
1. Not All Online Schools are Created Equal
Do your homework to be sure you’re choosing a high-quality virtual school – one that employs professional and certified/licensed teachers and school counselors. Make sure the school is accredited and offers a wide range of courses and a proven curriculum developed by professional educators. Talk to parents with students currently enrolled in the school and get their insights into the school staff and curriculum.
2. Plan Ahead
The semester break is an ideal time to switch to online school. Large projects and other in-depth lessons are typically completed before the end of the semester, with teachers diving into new content areas at the beginning of the next semester. Making the change at the semester break allows your student to finish any projects at their old school and start their new online school at a time when new projects are just being assigned. Also, several online school electives and other courses are semester-long courses. Starting online school at the beginning of the new semester allows your student to enroll in those classes from the very beginning, limiting missed content.
If you are thinking about making the switch to online school, find out when the semester break happens, and use that information 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 counselors and enrollment officials so they can help you navigate the school transfer smoothly.
3. Get Your Paperwork in Order
It takes time to complete the online school’s enrollment process, so parents should start it 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
4. 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 online school. Parents facing this situation should check with their new school’s enrollment counselors to find out what alternative paperwork they can supply, and then they should request it from their previous school.
5. Maintain an Open Dialogue
Going through a midyear school transfer doesn’t end once your student starts classes. Be sure to listen carefully and address your student’s questions and concerns. 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.
It's Never Too Late to Make the Switch to Online School
At no time in history have parents had so many different options for their student’s education, including brick-and-mortar public and private schools, online public and private schools, homeschool, charter schools, and learning pods.
Learn why it’s never too late to make the transfer to online school. You can also join one of Connections Academy’s information sessions to learn more about our online public schools to see they are a good fit for your student’s learning journey.