Special to the Journal
So, the holiday break is upon you and there is no avoiding one reality: Your child is miserable in their school.
This might not be what you wanted to concentrate on during the winter break, but it’s not uncommon.
“Changing to a virtual charter school is not just a change of venue, but a change of mindset,” said Principal Heather J. Robinson, Georgia Connections Academy.
According to Principal Robinson, the top reasons for switching schools mid-year usually are:
1. Your child learns at a different pace—faster or slower—and the benefit of personalized learning and pacing from an online education will keep them engaged;
2. The traditional classroom is not addressing your child’s needs to stay focused or recover self-esteem; or
3. Your child’s athletic/performance/health schedule demands the flexibility of online education.
“Whatever the reason, the parent finds that their child is constantly talking about the need to change schools. It’s important to listen to and respect your child’s feelings, and provide reassurance,” said Principal Robinson. “Taking time to explore what options are out there and clear communications about what a school change will involve helps the transition.”
Georgia Connections Academy is a K-12 school that accepts mid-year entries.
According to Principal Robinson, more than a quarter of a million American students in grades K-12 get their education virtually. In Georgia, 3000 students are currently enrolled in Georgia Connections Academy, with that number expected to rise to 4000 for the 2014-2015 school year.
“The format of virtual schooling eases the student’s adjustment period, and because learning takes place at the home computer, the physical transition is easier too for student and family,” said Principal Robinson.
Principal Robinson suggests these tips for a mid-year transition:
- Do your homework.
Make sure the school offers an accredited program with a wide range of courses, and a proven curriculum developed by professional educators. Talk to parents with students currently enrolled in the school.
- Plan Ahead
Research shows that students are more successful when they change schools at the beginning of a quarter or semester. Find out when the grading period ends in your child’s current school and when the new one starts. Use this info to set a target start date for the new school. Of course, sometimes life throws you a curve ball—like surprise job changes or family matters. In that case, guidance and enrollment officials can help you navigate the school switch smoothly.
- Get Your Paperwork in Order
Check with enrollment officials at the new school for admission deadlines and a list of required documents, which could include:
- application forms
- birth certificate
- immunization records
- other state-specific paperwork
- Pay Attention to Transfer Credits
Many schools don’t mail fall semester report cards until the spring semester, making it tricky for some parents to prove course completion and to get students’ credits transferred to the new school. Parents facing this situation should check with their new school’s enrollment counselors to find out what other, alternative paperwork they can supply, and then they should request it from the previous school.
- Maintain an Open Dialogue
Easing a midyear transition doesn’t end once your child has all of his or her books and supplies and has started classes. Be sure to listen carefully and address your child’s questions and concerns. And continue to communicate with school staff regularly. Teachers, counselors, and administrators are there to help. Maintaining an open dialogue with them is key to a smooth transition to virtual school.
Making the mid-year switch? Join one of Georgia Connections Academy’s free “online info sessions” for parents. For dates and times, contact Principal Robinson or Outreach Coordinator Laura Berry at (678) 825-3258. Info is also available at: http://www.connectionsacademy.com/georgia-virtual-school/events.aspx
ABOUT GEORGIA CONNECTIONS ACADEMY
Georgia Connections Academy, established in 2010, is a provider of high-quality, free public virtual charter schooling for grades K through 12. Georgia Connections Academy is dedicated to highly accountable student academic performance and offers superior, personalized education by certified teachers. Principal Heather J. Robinson helps students and their families transition from traditional brick-and-mortar schooling to the joys, freedom and flexibility of an online education that meets the state’s standards and still meets the definition of a community school. As an online charter school, students access their lessons anytime, anywhere as long as they have the technology, tools and support of their family. Accountability for meeting high academic student performance is monitored by the school’s non-profit charter board, President Alisa Hug. The charter school is authorized by the State Board of Education to accept students from any county in the State. The school will welcome 3000 students for the 2013-2014 school year. Principal Robinson has expanded the school curriculum to include personalized tutoring, “Study Island” for testing skill enhancement, and high quality electives, such as e-learning courses at Juilliard. Learning Coaches also receive optional, online weekly training from school leaders. The school is headquartered in Duluth at 2763 Meadow Church Rd., Ste 208. Student field trips, parent-to-parent events and school information sessions are regularly scheduled and promoted at the school website.