A Guide to Transitioning from a Traditional School to Online Learning
When you have made the decision that public school may not be the best option for your child, you transition from going with the flow to swimming upstream. Making this transition can be both empowering and intimidating. Here are steps you can take that will help you navigate the ins and outs of transitioning from a traditional school.
Talk to your current school about withdrawal policies
Although homeschooling is a common choice in our day and age, there is still some resistance to it. Some districts may make it seem like you should not or cannot homeschool, but this isn’t accurate. You can homeschool your children if you want to. Transitioning from a traditional school is allowed, so if you feel like your previous school is telling you that you cannot leave or that they are forcing you to jump through several hoops, know that the process is not as difficult as it may seem.
Find out what the state requirements are
It is good to familiarize yourself with the requirements your state has for online learning. To learn more about the conditions for transitioning from a traditional school in your area, check out our article on requirements for your state.
Once you have thoroughly investigated what will be required of you, be sure to keep a list of these steps.
If you are transitioning from a traditional school to a homeschool
Homeschooling your children can be simple. If you have already gathered a detailed list of your state’s requirements, you just need to make sure that your homeschool methods are keeping up with your state standards.
Another crucial part of beginning to homeschool is keeping in-depth and organized records of your student’s grades and work. Some states may require you to keep a portfolio of the student’s work that needs to be reviewed for each year. Whether this is needed or not, you will likely need to provide a homeschool portfolio for college, so the more organized you are, the better. For more information about transitioning from homeschool to college, check out our guides.
Keep in mind that if you move to a different state, you will have to conform to the new state’s requirements, so make sure you are always ready to show what and how your student is learning.
Make sure you find out the following information from the new school
- Answers to the questions you and your family have. Create a list of questions beforehand so all of your questions are answered when you talk to the new school.
- Accreditation information. How transferable or recognizable are these credits your child will be earning, both to other preK–12 schools and to colleges?
- Record-keeping information. Is the school keeping student records?
- Attention to state requirements. Is the private school ensuring that all state requirements are being met? You should have previously made a list of these requirements, so you can use that list as a reference when you speak to the new school.
- If your student will be going to an online school, see if they have a demo of the curriculum available.
- Other contacts. Ask who you can contact for any other questions so you can call or email someone directly if you have further questions.
- Enrollment checklist. Get a list of everything that needs to be done to enroll your student.
- Curriculum information. Review the material your student will be working on to make sure that it will suit your student’s learning style and your family’s values.
Get a copy of the report card (grades preK–8) or official/unofficial transcript (grades 9–12)
The new school will typically request an official copy, but that may take time—sometimes several weeks. Getting an unofficial copy to the new school, where it can be used to get the process going while waiting for the official version, can expedite the enrollment process significantly.
Once you enroll, get everything done as quickly as possible on your end
The new school is likely getting enrollments all the time, so the quicker you get your part done, the more smoothly you will find the process of transitioning from a traditional school to an online or private school. Here are some things you may be required to do once you have enrolled.
- Submit enrollment forms and complete any entrance assessments. These often are the early steps in the process, so the sooner these are done, the sooner the new school’s admissions team can help your student move through the enrollment process.
- Make sure the new school is informed. Provide all relevant information on the enrollment form: any strengths or weaknesses the student has had (struggling in math, etc.), any disabilities, electives desired, or areas of academic interest. If the student is in high school, make a note of what their post-graduation plans may be, if any.
- Get a sense of the timeline. Ask the new school for a realistic estimate of how long the process will take before the student is able to begin coursework.
- Purchase any required or recommended materials, such as textbooks or science equipment.
- Familiarize yourself with the family handbook—if they have one—or any other materials provided.
- If applicable, notify your state of your intention—that you are transitioning from a traditional school and which alternative route you are taking. Go back to those lists you made and make sure you’ve fulfilled all the requirements for your state. If you need it, a private or online school will often provide reports or proof of enrollment.
If you are currently transitioning from a traditional school and seeking an online schooling option for the students in your family, consider enrolling at Enlightium Academy.