For many parents, the middle of the school year—and beginning of the calendar year—seems like an excellent time to start a new educational opportunity. Maybe your child has been bullied at their previous school. Maybe their grades just aren’t up to par—or perhaps they’re not being challenged enough. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided that in the new year, your child is going to be virtual schooled.
Start the process early. There are a lot of other parents who also think this is an excellent time of year to start the virtual schooling process. Phone lines are clogged; paperwork is backed up; and it might take longer than you think to get all of your information together and your materials in.
Make sure that you have all of your documents on hand. You will need your child’s birth certificate and social security card, as well as proof of residence. The school will probably also have several forms that you need to fill out. Make a list of everything that you have to send in, and make sure that you get it in to the school as soon as possible. They will hold up your acceptance over one piece of paperwork.
Contact your current school district. They will have to “release” your child to the virtual school before you can officially begin classes. This can take longer than getting your paperwork filed. If you don’t hear back within a couple of days, contact them again. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll do that right away!” over the phone and then forget to send an email ten minutes later. It’s also easy for a lone email to get lost in the shuffle, so make sure it isn’t the one approving your child (or children) that goes astray.
Prepare your child for the switch. Discuss what will be different now that they are staying at home.
Stay in touch with your admissions liaison. They know more about what’s going on than you do, and they will guide you through the process—but only if you get involved early.
As virtual schools become more common, the process is becoming more streamlined, and both the administrators and the teachers are better able to provide you with what you need. However—be aware that it is a process, and there may be some hang-ups along the way. Be prepared to sit on hold from time to time, and don’t be afraid to keep calling—just like the teachers at your child’s brick and mortar school, that’s what they’re there for!