An expert in learning styles, clinical psychologist Dr. Courtney L. Karp sheds light on going back to school
The beginning of school is a major transition—perhaps the year’s biggest milestone for little ones. And while some kids look forward to hitting the classroom, the post-summer shift can be troubling for others. “It really does depend on the child,” says Dr. Courtney L. Karp, Psy.d, a Los Angeles–based clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children (six and up) and adolescents. Here, Dr. Karp sheds light on some of the toughest back-to-school scenarios. —Lucie Alig
From Summertime to School
It can be hard, but try to maintain some sense of routine over the summer. If there’s no structure for a few months and then the child is expected to go back to school all of a sudden, it makes the transition more stressful. The summer months aren’t a time to let go. So get that bedtime routine back in order!
From One School to Another
This can depend on whether many moves have occurred within the family, or if it’s the child’s first time switching schools. In any case, try to organize a play date or a meet-and-greet with kids from the new school before classes start. This way, the child has some social familiarity, and at least a buddy or two in place.
From Kindergarten to Grade School
There’s definitely more expected of children in grade school. Students are expected to sit still and follow directions. If it’s a traditional public school, they’ll have to sit at desks instead of sitting on the floor and, depending on how easily the child transitions, this could be a big change!
From Wrong Fit to Right School
Parents need to be thoughtful about school placement. So often I see children being enrolled in a school because it’s where parents want them to be, even if it’s not the best fit. I firmly believe that there are so many options—especially in Los Angeles and New York—that we have a true luxury in finding the right fit for our kids. If the child has learning problems, those need to be accommodated too. Sometimes public school is totally the best option, and other times kids need to see a learning specialist but would never have found one through public school. It all just depends on the child.