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As an educational psychologist how would you assess this?

Caireen Reenie
Caireen Reenie Member Posts: 4 Listener
This discussion was created from comments split from: Hello my name is Hannah and I'm an educational psychologist.


  • Caireen Reenie
    Caireen Reenie Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Hi Hannah

    My son is 4 and in reception, last year in nursery his teacher found it difficult for him to follow instructions and keep still while sitting on the carpet. It wasn't that he's defiant he just seems to not be paying attention, however if she asked him what was happening in class he could often tell her. She recommended him being referred to a speech and language therapist not for his speech or language but to see if we could get to the bottom of him not listening and his daydreaming. We didn't and she had to consult a colleague as she'd never met a child like him but decided that she felt he had social interaction problems (even though he'd interacted with no one but her!). Needless to say I didn't take it any further and he entered Reception his teacher said she was a little concerned about his level of focus and concentration and would monitor it over the course of the term. On the next parent's evening she continued that she was concerned with his level of focus and concentration and would recommend referring him to an educational psychologist. Her main concerns are that he cannot sit still on the carpet and that he is unable to focus on anything unless playing with toys! Saying that he is learning and making progress but she says she's worried about him entering Year 1 as naturally he'd be in Key Stage 1 and need to work to a certain academic standard. Before my son entered nursery I advised that he is best suited to working within a small group or 1 to 1 setting. They do do this with him and I also do a lot of work with him at home, I explained to them that sometimes with him it's not that he can't focus more that he won't because if he doesn't want to do something he will try his hardest not to. Also if he's bored he will not pay attention and will daydream or lose focus. His class teacher now says that if she asks him what was being said he cannot tell her whereby the early years educator insists she doesn't know how he knows what's going on when he doesn't appear to be listening!
    As an educational psychologist how would you assess this? Should I agree to them referring him or are there more questions I should be asking to find out what interventions they've put in place and tried and tested methods they've used? If he was referred I would only want to ensure that a specific plan was put in place to facilitate how he learns and how to get the most out of him.
    I must stress that I have no issues learning at home with him other than when he decides he doesn't want to do it.
    He gave his piano teacher and football coach a hard time again if things didn't go his way they have both managed to develop strategies that keep him engaged and interested and at swimming his teacher confirmed that once he started listening he has come on leaps and bounds.
    I'm sorry to go on but his teacher today made me feel as though if I didn't refer him I was doing something wrong, I felt as though she was begging and pleading with me to do it, and that made me a little uneasy. I just want to be sure that I don't make a mistake or have him referred for the wrong reasons is this ever the case?
    Sorry for such a long message but I, my family and friends are dead against him entering a "system" that becomes a web to get out of and could potentially hinder him as opposed to benefit him. I want to make sure there is a definite need as I feel that he cannot be the only 4 year old who finds it hard to focus and sit still.
  • EducationalPsychologist
    EducationalPsychologist Member Posts: 118 Courageous
    Hello Caireen,
    For some reason I have not been receiving email alerts so apologies my response is delayed.
    There are many reasons why children can find it difficult to concentrate. Here are a few:
    - hearing difficulties
    - boredom
    - learning difficulties
    - immaturity
    - difficulty understanding language
    The list goes on...
    It may be that your son's teacher is unclear what is causing him to be distracted and therefore is unsure which strategies to use. It is important to understand the why do that the right interventions are put in place.
    It is also worth remembering that children behave differently in different settings and with different people.
    An educational psychologist can try to help adults understand what is causing a particular difficulty and make recommendations for how best to help them make progress.
    It seems like you are worried that something negative might happen as a result of an educational psychologist becoming involved? If this is the case, I may be able to help clarify things if you would like to share your concerns?
    As an independent educational psychologist I have the luxury of time that many local authority psychologists do not. This means how I would assess your son may be different. A local authority psychologist may carry out observations and consultations. They may do some assessment but how much varies from place to place. As an independent psychologist I would do an observation but also a full cognitive assessment as this would help me to understand your son's strengths as well as difficulties, which is important for recommending strategies for how best to teach him.
    I hope this is helpful, feel free to ask follow up questions.
  • Caireen Reenie
    Caireen Reenie Member Posts: 4 Listener
    I think my concerns stem from the fact his teacher has not actually told me what interventions she has put in place to target the problem. Working in a primary school myself I would have thought this would have been something she would have "brought to the table" so I can see what it is she has done, observations or an IEP. Something to show that they've tried various methods and these haven't worked. On the 2 occasions she's mentioned things that any child of any age would do or say and that doesn't surprise me at all. Also the fact that he has been learning steadily and that I've never been told he's behind or struggling with learning or that I haven't even been spoken to by the SENCO co-ordinator. I feel that if it's as serious as they say they haven't really done enough with regards keeping me in the loop as to what is happening. I'm very worried at my son become labelled and don't want to make a decision based on very little information from a teacher. I know my son can have trouble concentrating but generally its if he's not interested in something. Now I know when it comes to school he has to listen and focus but it's more a case of he doesn't want to rather than there's something wrong with him. In a class of 30 kids he can easily zone out and stop listening obviously at home I know how to engage with him and keep his focus in order to aid his learning. My concern is that this isnt happening at school and I appreciate in a class of 30 it would be difficult. However when does it get to the point that he has to be referred to an Ed-Psych without telling me what has been done to tackle the issue? I feel like I'm being asked to just take her word for it without being shown anything to validate her concerns. And maybe that is the point where I feel it could lead to something negative.
  • EducationalPsychologist
    EducationalPsychologist Member Posts: 118 Courageous
    It may be helpful for you to ask for a meeting with the teacher and SENCO. You could write down your questions and concerns to take with. You could ask them to bring to the meeting evidence of what they have done to try to understand your son and also what strategies they have put in place. An important question for you all to discuss will be 'what is the impact of your son's difficulty with concentration?' Another useful question is 'when does he concentrate better and what enables this to happen? What is different?' I hope you are able to have some clarity from the school soon.
  • Caireen Reenie
    Caireen Reenie Member Posts: 4 Listener
    Thank you Hannah


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