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How educational psychologists can support SEN children

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What is an educational psychologist and how might they help your child? We chat to consultant child educational psychologist Laverne Antrobus to find out.

Why might children need to see an educational psychologist?

In a situation where a parent or school feels that a child's learning isn't progressing in the way they would want it to, and the child is becoming quite stuck with learning, an educational psychologist would be consulted.

How does an educational psychologist support a child?

An educational psychologist's task is gathering as much information about an individual child as possible. So they would begin by taking quite a detailed history from the parent. They want to know how a child has progressed through all of the developmental milestones, walking and talking for example, and then find out when things changed.

They would then go into the nursery or school environment and do a very basic observation, too, where they will look at a child's interactions with other children, levels of language, and how they are generally - if they are confident, what things can trigger a change in behaviour. Often you can see a child in an environment behaving calmly until they need to sit down and begin to do a task and you realise it is at that point that they really struggle.

Lastly, is a consultation with the class teacher and the staff working with the child to get a broader sense of what the child is like in school.

Are there any things that parents can do to support their child with SEN?

Each child develops at different rates and you have got to be able to pace learning at home. It is also important to maintain good communication with your child's teacher because the worst thing that can happen is that parents don't raise their concerns with the school. Schools should have an open door policy where you can go in and observe your child and discuss your child's needs with teaching staff.

It is the teacher's job to keep an eye on the levels of sociability in children, so you need to ask about whether they have friends and a group of people they can rely on. Then you will be ready to talk about learning more formally. You have to decide as a parent what bits are important to you. The thing to ask is if there are any problems - if their learning is not progressing in the way the teacher expected them to at this stage. Remember to take notes when you chat with the teacher, it may raise further questions.


Other resources:
If you want more advice from Laverne Antrobus, read her book Aint Misbehavin'  (£9.99, Prentice Hall Life).

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