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5 Tips for Transitioning from Online School or Homeschooling to a Traditional Classroom

Online grade schools are an excellent resource for families and students with nontraditional schedules and unique approaches to learning. Virtual programs allow families the flexibility to travel, pursue an artistic career, or even simply nurture a student who thrives best in an independent environment.

Life doesn’t always keep the same schedule, however, and the needs of each student often change as years go on. For this reason, plenty of students find themselves transitioning from online or homeschooling back to a brick-and-mortar setting.

But how does this transition work? Can students of a virtual or at-home classroom room adjust to early mornings, in-person group discussions, and a more regulated curriculum?

The good news is that the structure of online school itself prepares for this possibility, assuming that at some point, students may head back to the traditional school setting or experience it for the first time. Online school curriculum — especially when linked with a local public or charter school — closely mirrors that of their physical classrooms. Also, many of the skills and techniques strengthened in independent learning could make the student even more likely to thrive in a brick-and-mortar school.

When transitioning from online school back to a more traditional classroom, consider these few tips to make the process successful and stress-free.

1. Adjust to the new schedule over time

For the most part, online grade schools work within a student’s ever-shifting schedule. This is one of the biggest differences to consider when transitioning back to early morning buses and a cyclical class schedule. With help from both your online instructors and the administrators at your new school, try to work each of these changes into the student’s life one at a time.

Begin waking up earlier, keeping a set lunch schedule, and trying to consistently focus on school work solely during the day. Once your student fully switches to their new schedule, use any free period of class transition to regroup until the new schedule feels natural.

2. Consider Strengths and Challenges

The nature of online schooling helps develop a natural sense of independence and self-directed learning. Though the new school will structure the curriculum differently, this motivated and focused energy is a great asset in any classroom. Both before and after the switch, students should sit with their teachers and parents and discuss how these strengths have helped or hindered them throughout the day. If they’re not feeling challenged enough in the class setting, speak with the school about independent project opportunities or expanding certain topics outside of the school day.

Now that each student learns together in one room, some children may feel intimidated to raise their hands in class. Let each teacher know about these concerns ahead of time so they feel both confident to ask questions and provide answers, and work their way up to taking chances with more challenging group work.

3. Join After-school Clubs

With greater access to school-sponsored clubs and electives, students can build a larger circle of peers in the subjects they love. Online schooling often leaves the door open to further explore a specific topic or art form, so these programs create a similar opportunity to develop their enthusiasm. If your child pursued an artistic career outside of school during their time with the online program, help them seek out similar activities offered within their school. And boost their confidence about what they can offer to the new group; this is a great chance for them to bring real-world experience into an education setting.

4. Socialize in the Summer

It’s normal to have some nervous anticipation before jumping into an already-established social scene. In the months leading up to the transition, search for clubs and intramural sports at your local YMCA or activity center. The school itself may also have summer activities for involvement, allowing your student to bond with his classmates before jumping into a rigorous schedule in the fall.

5. Meet with Teachers

Most importantly, arrange a time for your student to meet with their future teachers before the year begins. Online schooling often offers frequent one-to-one student instruction and losing this direct line of communication may seem disorientating at first.

When transcripts are initially transferred, each school has their own process for aligning the student with their own lesson plans. Unlike homeschooling, online schools offer curricula closer to the state-mandated requirements, making this transition a bit smoother overall. Take advantage of this transition time to speak with your new teachers about any concerns. Dive into more details, such as ways to flourish in a group discussion, dealing with an increase in homework assignments and adjusting to a set schedule.

If possible, make set appointments throughout the first few months with a guidance counselor or learning specialist to take note of challenges and successes.

The Bottom Line

Though there is a range of benefits to online grade school, students’ needs and learning styles change as they get older. Moving from a home classroom to a brick-and-mortar school is quite common. Though the transition may feel confusing at first, the strengths and skills developed through independent study can carry over to the classroom with great success. By recognizing all the ways online school helped them prepare for this next step, they can take pride in the diverse educational background and experience.

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Author: Ginny Bartolone

Ginny is a freelance writer and actress based in Montclair, NJ. She regularly contributes to a range of wedding, lifestyle and spirituality websites, as well as in her own blog, MaybeThereWillBeCupcakes.com. She is also currently completing a book about her two hikes across Spain.