Making the switch: Five steps to withdraw your child from school mid-year

Many parents can feel overwhelmed at the thought of pulling their child from public school right in the middle of a school year. But take heart – it’s not only possible, but also successfully…

Many parents can feel overwhelmed at the thought of pulling their child from public school right in the middle of a school year. But take heart – it’s not only possible, but also successfully achieved by more families than you might think!

This article will give you a clear, comprehensive overview of steps to withdraw your child from their current school (and avoid common mistakes during the process).

Tip 1: Choose the school you’re transferring to.

In most cases, this step is probably self-evident – especially if you’ve moved locations or are already considering a new school. 

However, it may not apply to parents who are wanting to homeschool. Because homeschooling laws vary by state, some states require you to register as a non-accredited private school (or some other such entity).

This is important because every state has some form of compulsory attendance laws for children of certain ages. If you withdraw your child from school without going through the proper legal processes, your child could be declared truant or unlawfully failing to attend school.

(If you’re thinking about withdrawing your children to homeschool them, read our 7 tips to get started homeschooling here.)

Because of the legal intricacies involved, you may want to consider becoming a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for at least the first year of your homeschool. They can help provide educational resources and legal protections, as well as answer any questions you may have about your state’s homeschool law.

Tip 2: Compare curriculum options.

Parents may not realize that curriculum choices often differ from school to school.

Even if you’re not choosing a homeschool curriculum but transferring to another school, you should check to see what the new school is using and how it compares to your child’s current situation (One option is to ask your child’s new teachers for coursework samples or finished projects).

If necessary, consider hiring a tutor to bring your child up to speed if the new curriculum is substantially more advanced than what they’ve previously experienced.

Tip 3: Research any paperwork requirements from the new school.

If transferring to an established school, make sure you know all the processes and requirements needed to enroll your child. These may include enrollment deadlines, transcript submissions, birth certificates, and certain medical records.

Whenever possible, try to set up a meeting with other families who have students in the same school or classroom that your child will attend. This can help your child know at least one familiar face in an unfamiliar setting.

Tip 4: Collect your child’s school records.

When requesting school records, it may be helpful to refer to the cumulative file – all records such as grade transcripts, standardized testing, health reports, etc. It can also include speech or language evaluations and Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

We also recommend calling your child’s current school and finding out the administrative official responsible for handling records. Once you know the official’s name, you can personalize your written request and follow up with them as needed.

Tip 5: Re-evaluate after the school transition.

Give your child (and yourself!) a reasonable timeframe to settle into the new school routine.

If transferring to another established school, 6-8 weeks may be enough for your child to adapt. For homeschooling, however, you may need more time. Many homeschool families report that their first year of homeschooling is typically the hardest, especially if transitioning from a public school. Finding an adequate, extensive support system and network can make all the difference.

Whatever the reason for your school withdrawal, you can always take comfort in your right to choose the best education for your child. The Parental Rights Foundation details on its website how the history of parental rights predates even the U.S. Constitution, with a strong foundation in English common law and later recognized in many cases by the Supreme Court. 

By following the right legal procedures, you can successfully navigate the withdrawal from your child’s current school at any time – even if that happens midway through the year!