A Handbook for Transitioning from a Traditional School
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. You are now forging your child’s educational journey for yourself. 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.
When you are transitioning from a traditional school, your child’s school can provide a wealth of information on this topic; chances are they’ve withdrawn students before, so they can help you figure out what is needed on their end.
Although home schooling 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 home school, but this isn’t true. The truth is, you can home school your children if you want to. According to a study by a2zhomeschooling.com an estimated 1.6 million children in all 50 states were home schooled during the 2015–2016 school year. For a thorough and compelling history of how the right to home school was fought for and earned, check out this article.
Transitioning from a traditional school is allowed, so if you feel like they are telling you that you cannot leave or that they are forcing you to jump through 1,000 hoops, know that the process is not as difficult as it may seem.
Find out what the state requirements are.
Again, it is likely that the school district will have knowledge of the state requirements for alternative schooling options, so you should ask them for this information. It is good to familiarize yourself with the requirements in other ways, too. To learn more about the requirements for transitioning from a traditional school in your area, you can click on your state on this interactive map to see the requirements for your state. You will also find similar resources at HSLDA.org. There are tons of other resources there as well to guide you as you go about transitioning from a traditional school and pursuing an alternative education.
Once you have thoroughly investigated what will be required of you, be sure to keep a list of these requirements, including if any standardized tests are required.
If you are transitioning from a traditional school to a home school...
Home schooling your children can be as simple or complicated as the laws in your state. Since you have already gathered a detailed list of your state’s requirements, you just need to make sure that your home school methods are keeping up with state standards.
Another crucial part of beginning to home school is keeping in-depth and organized records of your student’s grades and work. Some states may require you to keep a portfolio for the student’s work that needs to be reviewed for each year, but whether this is needed or not, you will likely need to provide a home school portfolio for college, so the more organized you are, the better. For more information about transitioning from home school to college read this guide.
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.
If you are transitioning from a traditional school to a private school...
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 private 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 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 private school.
- If your student will be going to an online school, see if they have a demo available. If your student will be going to a brick and mortar school, see if they have an in-school walkthrough.
- 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 (Pre-K–8) or official/unofficial transcript (9–12)
The new school will typically request an official copy, but that may take time—sometimes several weeks if there are issues and/or one or both schools are busy. Getting an unofficial copy to the new school, where it can be used to get the process going while waiting for the official version.
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 the online or private school. Here are some things you may be required to do once you have enrolled.
- Complete any placement tests, pay any fees, submit any forms, etc. These often are the early steps in the process, so the sooner these are done the sooner the school’s admissions team can move on to the next steps.
- Make sure the new school is informed. Provide all relevant information on the application—IEPs, any strengths or weaknesses the student has had (struggling in math, etc), any disabilities, electives or areas of interest. If the student is in high school, make a note of what his or her post-grad 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. Getting a new student onboard takes time, so this will give you an idea of how long it will take before he or she can begin courses.
- Once you have completed your steps in the process, allow the new school to process the application. The new school will likely have a system in place for bringing on new students that includes multiple departments and several employees. Again, this will take some time, so the best thing you can do is find out ahead of time what is required of you, how long enrollment will take and who your point of contact will be during the process. If more time than was expected passes (1–2 weeks) and no one has contacted you, reach out to your point of contact to see where your student is in the enrolling process. If possible, avoid contacting multiple people or calling multiple times a week, as this may actually slow down the enrollment process.
- 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.
- 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. Enlightium is a fully accredited online private Christian school that allows students to work at their own pace with a flexible schedule. Our affordable tuition, individualized curriculum, and simple admissions process maintains the advantages of a home school education while also preparing students well for college. Additionally, Enlightium offers record-keeping and has worked with families in all 50 states to meet state requirements. Feel free to call us at 866-488-4818 if you have any questions about transferring to Enlightium Academy.