You’re probably thinking about transferring your child to online school. It’s a natural inclination, given the challenges of traditional schooling that hamper your child’s learning and well-being. Online schooling opens doors to independent, student-centered learning in the safe, secure environment of your home.
Still, you might be juggling two competing thoughts. You want to find a school that allows your child to thrive, but you fear that the change will disrupt your child’s life and education. Even that first step of completing the transfer from public brick-and-mortar school to online school can seem daunting.
At CCA, we’re here to assure you that transferring to online school is painless. It’s not complicated at all. Here, we share the simple steps involved. With this knowledge in hand, you will build the confidence to help your child break from old ways of schooling and rediscover the joy of learning.
Why Choose an Online School?
If you’re looking to switch schools and are thinking about enrolling online, you’re already on the way to finding individualized education for your child. Online learning is an exceptional place for students to learn about the topics they’re interested in and develop life skills that they’ll need in the future.
Benefits of enrolling in an online school include:
- Students can log in to school from home each day and feel empowered to do their best work.
- Online schools tailor education to each student’s needs.
- Your child can learn in a safe and comfortable environment.
- Children gain valuable technical skills that they can use in future endeavors.
- Students can tap into their learning style and learn in the way that best suits them.
- Your child can work slowly through challenging concepts without falling behind.
- Online schools can offer more class options than those taught in traditional schools.
- By creating their own schedule, children can learn valuable time management skills.
- Children learn to be independent and practice taking ownership of their responsibilities.
- Students can possibly graduate early or catch up if they’ve fallen behind on credits.
- Online schools help students with disabilities thrive.
- Virtual education can continue despite weather conditions, delays, or a pandemic.
Do Your Research on Transferring to Online School
You might be asking yourself how to transfer to online school, but there’s a more important question to answer first. Which school is right for my child? If you’ve never dealt with online schools before, it’s crucial to know that each one is different. Research the range of available schools. When you find an online school that appeals to you, look into these questions:
- What grades does it serve? Not every online school offers the full spectrum of K-12 learning.
- Does this school offer special education, advanced coursework or other support for my child’s unique learning needs?
- Are teachers qualified and state-certified?
- Is the school accredited by a recognized entity, such as a regional accrediting association?
- Is this a tuition-free public school chartered or approved to operate in my state?
- Do families pay additional fees for applications, technology, textbooks and supplies, or activities? If it’s a private school, what are the tuition fees? Are scholarships available?
- What are other parents saying about this school online and in person?
- How successful is it? The Pennsylvania Department of Education should have data on reading and math proficiency, academic growth, career standards, graduation rates, teacher effectiveness, and other indicators of school success. You might find additional details, such as availability of AP classes, rates of students pursuing higher education, military service, or jobs after graduation, and a racial, ethnic, and gender breakdown of the student body.
Speaking with other families who have enrolled in the school is a great idea to get a second opinion about an online school. CCA offers a family mentor program to provide family support from veteran CCA parents. Because CCA mentors have been through the online schooling process, they’re prepared to answer any questions you might have along the way.
CCA mentors offer year-round and non-academic support to provide guidance and tips to families who are still adjusting to online school life. They can provide you with resources that will help maximize your child’s educational opportunities.
How to Choose a School That’s Right for Your Family
Once you’ve narrowed the list of suitable schools, it’s time to zero in on the one that fits the needs of your child and the circumstances of your family. Each online school has its own culture, mission, and educational focus, so consider these factors:
- Does the school offer a rich and rigorous selection of classes that can be customized to my child’s interests?
- Can my child access classes according to his or her own schedule?
- Is the school committed to career readiness that prepares my child for life after graduation, whether it’s higher education, career training, military service, or workforce participation?
- Does the school organize events that allow children to make friends and families to network? Many parents new to online learning worry about the loss of socialization, but a good online school will offer clubs and activities that help families bridge the gaps and connect children with a circle of friends.
- Does the school offer hands-on learning and a full slate of educational field trips that bring learning to life?
- Can my child engage in extracurricular activities? Some brick-and-mortar school districts allow online learners to participate in sports, drama, music, and clubs. In many areas, private, faith-based, and nonprofit leagues and organizations also offer enrichment and physical activity.
- Does the school provide the technology and the technical support my child will need to connect to teachers and lessons? Is my home equipped with the connectivity needed to access classes?
- Does the school have strong policies and procedures for dealing with cyberbullying?
- Am I committed to making learning a family affair? And is the school committed to mentoring and guiding us through the experience?
You may also want to consider a blended school option. These schools have centers where students can drop in to receive tutoring, spend time with peers, or participate in school clubs and events. For example, CCA has fully equipped mobile classrooms that move across the state and allow students to participate in field trip activities.
Although you may not have thought a mobile classroom would be high on your list of priorities when looking for an online school, it is a factor to consider. With a wireless internet connection, computers, science labs, and smartboards, these mobile classrooms have all of the equipment that your child needs to have a unique and engaging school experience.
You may also want to find a school that offers support for families. CCA operates more than a dozen Family Service Centers across Pennsylvania. Students and families can stop by these service centers for in-person assistance with enrollment and to meet with administrators and school counselors. Student success is a team effort — family support services can help students transition to online school.
As part of your decision, consider whether the online school has multiple locations and learning opportunities, like CCA’s mobile classrooms and Family Service Centers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Transferring to an Online School
It’s natural to have questions as you navigate through a new process, and you’re not alone. Figuring out how to switch to online school and ensuring it meets your child’s needs can seem intimidating, but the process is quite simple with the right school.
How Do I Transfer From Public School to Online School?
To begin the Pennsylvania enrollment process, you’ll want to start by researching online schools. You’ll want to plan ahead, especially if you will be transferring before the current academic year is over. While starting with a fresh school year would be ideal, not every family will be able to do so. If you’re expecting a move in the near future, you should begin researching schools ahead of time in case you have any questions or decide to meet with school staff before committing to their program. You will also need to be sure your child is eligible to enroll by reviewing the school’s policies. Then, you’ll fill out the application and gather a series of documents. Your application will detail all of your essential information, including proof of age and residency, identification, immunization, and transcripts.
At CCA, you will create an account before receiving a link to an application page. The application will ask for information about the student, parent, technology, and household. You will be asked to submit additional forms regarding the student and guardian. You will then be invited to an orientation session.
How Long Does It Take to Switch to Online School?
Depending on how much research you complete to find the right school for your family, the entire process could take a short while. Setting up meetings with faculty, corresponding through email, and providing all necessary information can take families a bit of time from start to finish.
After deciding on a school, the enrollment process can be as short as a few days to complete. Once you create an account on the school website and provide all of the documentation, the school will need to verify the information and create student profiles and lesson plans for your child. In Pennsylvania, your child must continue attending the previous school until they begin their online curriculum.
Can You Join an Online School in the Middle of the Year?
There are many reasons for moving schools during the middle of the year, and it’s relatively common. However, some school credits may not transfer if a child has to switch schools in the middle of the year. Although some online schools may have start time requirements, most schools will accept your children at any time.
One thing to note is that even though the online school may offer the same courses as your current institution, they may not cover the information the same way. Your student may end up completing work they’ve already finished or miss out on information that was taught at the beginning of the year. Most schools will work with you to fill these gaps, but it’s important to keep this in mind.
How Can My Student Get Enough Social Interactions?
Many online schools offer plenty of opportunities for collaboration between peers and instructors. Most of the class sessions will be live, and your child will be able to interact with their peers and instructors during the school day. Instructors might assign group projects and other social tasks that encourage collaboration. Beyond the classwork, many online schools offer extracurricular activities and events that students can participate in. Additionally, virtual students in Pennsylvania can participate in sports and clubs that your local school district offers. You will need to reach out to the school to determine try-out and sign-up dates.
CCA offers more than 900 field trips, clubs, internships, and special events. Some clubs meet online, and others meet in person, so your child has plenty of opportunities to interact with their peers. CCA provides hands-on experiences that are educational and fun while encouraging students to make connections with each other. With more than 50 school clubs, your child can engage with their friends regularly about common interests.
Complete the Enrollment Process
Enrolling in an online school involves a straightforward procedure, but the impact can be profound and life-changing. Procedures differ by school and state, but these five simple steps generally explain how to transfer your child to an online school.
- Create an account: For some schools, such as CCA, this is as simple as submitting an email address through an online form. You will receive a secure link to start the application process.
- Gather the required documents: With only a couple of exceptions, the documents required are the same ones you’ve been using for many aspects of your child’s life. You may need to provide proof of the student’s age from an official birth certificate or U.S. passport; proof of residence, such as a utility bill, mortgage statement, or lease agreement; proof of immunization, which can often be forwarded by the child’s prior education provider or created in a form filled out by the family physician; and if relevant, any custody order involving the child. You might also need to fill out a Charter Enrollment Form that will be used to inform the prior school district that your child is officially enrolled in an online school. Transcripts and any 504 plan or IEP might not be required, but they can help the online school determine your child’s grade-level placement and course of learning.
- Complete the enrollment application: A basic form can be quick and easy to fill out, asking for such information as names of the parents, guardians, student, and others in the household, plus your technology capabilities for connecting to the online school.
- Submit the required documents: After the enrollment application is submitted, the online school might invite the parent or guardian who is designated as the student’s caretaker to access a parent portal. This is when you provide more information about the student and submit the required documents.
- Attend an orientation session: This doesn’t necessarily have to involve travel or time off work. Although online schools often organize in-person information and orientation sessions, these schools are, of course, experts in online learning and communication. Choose your orientation session. Then, start down the road to learning about the responsibilities of parents, students, and staff. It’s also helpful to get an introduction to the learning management system your child will be using.
At any point in the process, your chosen school should be happy to answer your questions and easy to reach for help. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the support they offer by phone or email. Enrolling at CCA is easy for K-12 students in Pennsylvania, and you can easily access all the equipment your child needs to learn from home, on the road, or in any other location.
CCA Makes Transferring to Online School Easy
We get it. You have concerns about transferring to online school, but a cumbersome enrollment process should not be one of them. CCA believes this is how school should work, by capturing your child’s attention and customizing learning to his or her interests. We don’t want the application process to stand between your child and a captivating new world of learning.
At CCA, we’re happy to share details and answer every question you have about how to transfer to online school and what to expect when your child is enrolled. Contact us to request information and learn why CCA is the right fit for your family.