In our new blog, our new Educational Psychologist, Carmel, gives us more information about when to involve an educational psychologist in your child’s education and what is involved in the process…
When to involve an educational psychologist in your child’s education?
When there are concerns with:
the pace at which a child is learning to read or spell
their ability to communicate their thoughts in writing
their ability to understand mathematical concepts
their ability to remember and understand teaching and instructions
the levels of confidence they show in relation to their learning or socially with the other children
their ability to maintain attention/concentration in the classroom
their ability to organise equipment and time when working.
Parents can feel daunted or puzzled about the need to involve an educational psychologist but if this suggestion has been made to you then it is likely that the school staff want to understand the best ways in which to help your child to achieve their potential and do well at school.
What is an educational psychology assessment?
An educational psychology assessment basically involves gathering and interpreting a wide range of information.
The individual assessment can take around 3 hours though your child will be completing a series of short tasks so they are concentrating for limited periods at a time and they can take breaks when they need to.
There are many aspects that can impact on a child’s educational progress so as a parent you will be asked to provide information about your child’s development to understand how their strengths and any difficulties may have shown themselves over time. With your permission additional information can be gained from the teacher and other professionals working with your child.
When assessing young children it is very helpful to observe them in the classroom before working with them individually.
This background information helps to guide the individual work with your child.
The individual assessment with the educational psychologist focuses on the ways in which your child understands and processes information. One part of this is known as the cognitive assessment. The assessment also covers the development of your child’s academic skills, usually aspects of reading, spelling, writing and mathematics, depending on the concerns at school. Where the concerns relate to literacy development a thorough phonological assessment is also undertaken as a child’s ability to process sounds in words is essential when developing letter knowledge as they learn to read and spell.
Information is also gathered from the child as their views about school, their strengths and skills as well as things that are hard for them is important to understand.
What happens after the assessment?
On the day of the individual work with your child, the main conclusions from the assessment are talked through with you.
Each child is an individual so the conclusions will focus on their specific profile of strengths and needs. There are many reasons for children needing extra support at school which can include:
specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia or the cognitive/educational aspects of dyspraxia/DCD
working memory limitations
more general executive function difficulties, often evident in children with problems with attention and concentration
low levels of confidence
general difficulties with learning.
In some circumstances children may need extra help at school as their previous educational experience may be different to their peers, there may be gaps in their learning and they may need particular help to catch up in developing skills.
Essentially the educational psychology assessment is about gathering as much information as possible to determine the reasons for the concerns at school and to provide advice and recommendations to help your child to progress well.
A detailed report is produced after the assessment to record why the concerns in schools are happening. The report then includes strategies and forms of support that the school can put into place to reduce these concerns and enable your child to make progress with their learning. This report is sent to you, and with your permission, relevant school staff and any other professionals involved with your child.
Will my child need further assessments?
Many children have one assessment with an educational psychologist. The needs of a small number can be more complex so further assessments throughout their education can be helpful to determine their rate of progress, to advise on their educational support at different points in time and where appropriate, but not relevant at the first assessment, to make recommendations for adjustments such as extra time in examinations.