Salem Statesman Journal
By Marci Cammann
With the New Year approaching and, in many schools, a new semester starting soon, families may be considering other options for their child’s education such as transferring schools midyear. For some it might mean moving to a different brick-and-mortar school, for others private school, homeschooling or online public school.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau nearly 36 million people move every year in the U.S. – and, as a result, many children have to transfer schools. While some families are able to move over summer break, others are forced to move during the school year, often because a parent changes job or other economic circumstances. Some parents also opt to change schools midyear because their student has health or social issues, is falling behind or is bored in class and needs a better learning environment.
As the Manager of Counseling Services at Oregon Connections Academy, the state’s largest virtual public charter school, I believe in many cases the format of online education can ease a student’s adjustment period when making the switch midyear. No matter what kind of schooling option a family decides, there are few considerations parents should keep in mind. With a little advanced planning your child can have a smooth transition to a new school and soon experience both academic and emotional success.
Here are some tips to help your family switch schools mid-year:
Do your homework on the new school. Before making the move, talk to the principal and parents with students already enrolled at the new school. It’s important to increase your child’s familiarity with the school. You might be able to arrange for your student to attend the new school for a day before making a commitment and ask to meet with your child’s new teacher.
Switch schools, if possible, at the start of a new quarter or semester. Think about the best time to make the school switch. Reach out to the enrollment officials and guidance counselors to help you navigate the switch smoothly.
Find out when the grading period ends at your child’s current school and set that as a target date for starting class at the new one.
Getting all the paperwork processed can take time so start as soon as possible. Talk to the staff at the new school about the documents required such as transcripts, birth certificates or immunization records. And ask about any enrollment deadlines. If your student will be joining a class in the middle of the semester, the instructor can help you determine what material has already been covered and look at whether your student needs to catch up in a particular subject.
Before, during and after a school transition, consider involving your child in the decision-making process. While the decision is ultimately up to you, talk to your student about any questions or concerns they might have. Regardless of why you’re making the change, it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child.
Making a midyear school move can help remedy a difficult education situation, but change can sometimes be stressful. Many parents find that after a brief period their student is happier and doing better in their classes than before. During the adjustment period, watch for any changes in your child’s behavior and if you see a temporary drop in grades ask the teacher for assistance.
Switching schools can offer a great opportunity for your child to experience new exciting challenges, make new friends, as well as learn how to adapt to new situations and build independence. A midyear school transfer can be successful if you are supportive and keep the lines of communication open.
Marci Cammann of Beaverton is the manager of counseling services for Oregon Connections Academy, an online K-12 school chartered through Scio School District. Visit the school at www.OregonConnectionsAcademy.com.