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Why would nursery teacher want a house visit?

(33 Posts)
Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 14:31:22

Our lovely 3.5 y.o. DS is being investigated for ASD. He is not speaking, showing communication delays and resisting toilet training. He is no trouble otherwise and is a clear favourite of one of his nursery teachers. We really like her and so far have had a great relationship with her. Last week out of nowhere she suggested that she should do a home visit to observe how we interact with DS at home. When asked why she was very evasive regarding her reasons for wanting to do this. What could this mean? Should I worry?

zen1 Mon 29-Apr-13 14:43:56

TBH, I would be hmm about a nursery teacher wanting to visit my DS at home, especially if it was "to observe how parents interact" with a DC. I think you are right to question the motives behind her visit, and if you feel it is not appropriate, you do not have to go along with this.

MareeyaDolores Mon 29-Apr-13 15:14:36

Having her there will change the interactions so much
that what she sees will no longer be what goes on normally.

Videoing would be a more useful tool for observing this.

Actually a home visit could prove quite useful for advice re transferring schools between school and home, taking the most useful nursery techniques/ tools and adapting them for domestic use etc. Is that what is on offer?

and a visit can also give helpful feedback about his home setting for the paediatrician
but only if the teacher knows what to look for specifically, and how to record it.

Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 15:34:19

As I said she did not give any clear reasons for wanting to visit us at home and the paranoid part of me thinks that she somehow wants to judge us. She is not talking to the paediatrician as far as we know. We have been referred to a number of specialists and are now waiting for our appointments, so there is nothing she can do to help us, as far as I understand it.

frizzcat Mon 29-Apr-13 15:54:12

Aika - our nursery school do this as standard with all children that are new to the school. So nursery children/reception/or mid-school entry all have a home visit. It is done by HT Dep HT or the pertinent class teacher. Our schools reason for doing it, is so they can see all the children/parents in an informal setting that is comfortable for the child and ensures the child knows at least one adult before they hit the gate on the first day. Also parents are more relaxed at home and its a chance to discuss any talents, concerns etc etc.
It's a real positive thing in our school and is aimed to help transition felt by both parent and the child - it was helpful for it allowed our HT to see what ds was capable of in a calm environment, she was able to see how I interacted with ds, so they could use that to support ds.

zzzzz Mon 29-Apr-13 16:14:08

Sounds like she fancies herself as an amateur psychologist/SW.

Ask her to observe ds at school and give her own interpretation of his behaviour.

There are people trained to assess small children's relationship with their parents. I doubt she is one of them.

shock

Handywoman Mon 29-Apr-13 16:22:28

I don't think that what is being suggested is the same as what frizzcat describes (a 'getting to know you' session). I think this teacher wants to observe the family dynamics, find out more about home life/attachment etc. which need to be done by someone properly skilled in this area. Tbh I can see the value of this in terms of fast-tracking through the 'blame-the-parents' stage which can tempt the odd Paediatrician or Psychologist during assessments for ?developmental concerns (presumably this nursery teacher would write a written report for the benefit of all those professionals involved, if not, what's the point?). However, it does rather sound as though the nursery teacher has not handled it brilliantly. She could have had a full and frank discussion about the purpose of the visit but has rather fudged her response by the sounds of it. This undermines the trust that is so important. I think if the OP has been made to feel uncomfortable about this home visit she should say so, in order that the nursery school teacher learns how important it is to communicate well with parents and handle it better with the next family. Perhaps this teacher needs more confidence in what her role is here? Perhaps she too feels uncomfortable about this sort of 'assessment'. I would be direct with the teacher rather than allow the feeling that there is an ulterior motive because there may not be.

BeeMom Mon 29-Apr-13 16:25:22

Before judging her intentions, perhaps she wants to see your DS in his most comfortable place interacting with the people with whom he is most familiar. When she is on "his" territory, he may behave differently, and frankly, while you are the absolute experts in your DS, she has less specific experience with far more children, and maybe she can offer a nugget or two of useful insight.

Maybe there are challenges at school she is having trouble quantifying or explaining, and if they are occurring at home, she can say "look - like that", or if they are not, then it is a school specific behaviour.

Perhaps she is trying to do as much as possible for him to make sure that his transition to reception goes smoothly, and the framework for adequate support through school is developed early.

Or maybe I am delusional and you need to fear her because she has ulterior motives.

Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 16:38:46

Thank you all so much. I wish the teacher would explain herself as clearly as Handywoman, BeeMom did.

frizzcat we've been with them for more than a year now, so it's a bit too late for the 'get to know you'.

We really like the teacher and she probably means well, but I doubt she is qualified to do whatever assessment is necessary. The paranoid side of me is freaking out, but not sure why.

I think I would politely decline at this point and wait for the specialists' opinion first.

Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 16:39:23

BTW, what 'ulterior motives' might she have??

frizzcat Mon 29-Apr-13 16:51:21

More than a year!? confused
If you are not clear on the purpose then personally I'd be telling her the thoughts I'd expressed here to ensure she clarifies her purpose - I would not take too kindly to it either. Sorry, I thought it was the informal meet we have. I'd also be inclined to put my questions in writing tbh - has she made the request official or was it just a verbal?
You say you have a good relationship with her, talk to her about it, it may well be she is trying to support him better - but you'll get a better feel if you talk to her

Handywoman Mon 29-Apr-13 17:15:54

I think by 'ulterior motives' we might be talking about an general assessment of the situation your ds is growing up in. More specifically, whether he has adequate opportunities to flourish in terms of his physical, emotional and cognitive development (what sort of toys does he have, does the home seem a 'happy' place, how your ds behaves and interacts with you at home and whether he appears 'securely attached' etc.). The problem with this is children can live in what appears to be a perfect home and in fact suffer appalling emotional abuse and harmful neglect. Therefore the person making this judgement needs to be properly clued up, otherwise it becomes a subjective judgement of little value.

If the teacher fails to makes it clear what she is looking for and what criteria will be used, or if she herself is unclear about this assessment, it is easy for the assessed party to feel there is something 'fishy' going on. In which case instead of the Paed/Psych putting you through a 'let's blame the parents first' assessment it's the nursery school teacher doing this (which imo could be even worse since you see her five days a week = nightmare).

PolterGoose Mon 29-Apr-13 17:19:15

I'd love one of the school staff or some other professional to come see ds at home, they get such a blinkered view in a setting. It would also be easier to discus stuff without the usual time pressures of drop off and pick up or meetings squeezed in between other duties. I've nothing to hide so really wouldn't be bothered.

zzzzz Mon 29-Apr-13 17:29:29

For me it's not about "having something to hide", it's about privacy and our right to it. Having a child with sn lays you open to a world of judgement and intrusion that drives me a bit potty.

Unless I understand exactly why a question is being asked/an observation being undertaken, I fail to see why I would allow my child to participate?

Why on earth wouldn't this be a reasonable expectation?

DailyNameChanger Mon 29-Apr-13 17:33:54

I had this some years ago with my first son at nursery. He was a late talker and his key worker asked to come and do a home visit. I was a bit freaked out too. Mainly because I found his interaction completely different when someone else came round so I couldn't see what would be achieved. Anyway I bumped into the nursery senco in a supermarket and stopped for a chat and just asked her why the keyworker needed to come round my house. Nothing came of it after that. I'm not sure she had even told her superiors and tbh, she was a NVQ qualified nursery assistant who also worked part time in a shop. Nothing wrong with any of that but she wasn't qualified to come round and do assessments in my house. I don't think there was anything sinister though, I think she just had concerns about him at nursery and wanted to see if he was different at home. I have always been a bit freaked about things like this but as time has gone on and my second child has now been diagnosed with ASD, I am a lot more chilled now and don't feels so vulnerable. Whenever HVs have come to my house they've always said they like coming round because i'm so normal lol I think that's a compliment?!!

Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 17:58:33

After reading your helpful comments I asked myself why I am freaking out as I honestly have nothing to hide. My DC1 is doing really really well academically and socially and I know we have done everything we could for DC2 to develop. I guess I hate the idea of being judged for my parenting and, although I like the teacher, I don't completely trust her not to jump at some silly conclusions. I would much prefer someone qualified to do the assessments if necessary.

zzzzz Mon 29-Apr-13 18:06:47

I wouldn't be bothered at all by someone I wanted to assess ds whose opinion I valued (and could use) and who was qualified to do it, came to my house. In fact I asked the EdPsych ds saw to come to the house, because he behaved so very differently in his own environment.

That's not the same as his nursery nurse, with no clear agenda.

Ask her for her reasons in writing. It isn't necessarily a bad thing but I want to be clear about the reasons.

If I agreed to it I would probably be a bit cheeky in return and ask when I should come into the nursery to observe ds and how he interacts in their environment with the staff and other children.d

BeeMom Mon 29-Apr-13 18:22:15

I agree with Handywoman regarding ulterior motives. There can be a huge benefit to an assessment like that, as invasive as it may seem, but in order for it to be helpful/supportive, several things have to occur/be in place...

1) absolute lack of judgement, both on the part of the assessor and the family
2) absolute willingness to accept criticism without internalizing it or getting into a spiral of "I am useless as a parent" or "that sodding cow doesn't have a clue"
3) broad and varied cultural understanding on the part of the assessor
4) honesty and transparency across the board
5) the assessor MUST be VERY experienced, and able to observe without inference regarding motivation

However, our homes are our sanctuary. Our most intimate moments occur there, we generally experience or deal with the highest and lowest points of our lives behind the closed and locked doors of our "castle". Our parenting is an extension of ourselves, we identify ourselves in relation to our children - when those skills are critiqued and dissected, even when this is not the intent, it feels like a personal affront or insult.

We expect that the assessor is looking to find fault or weakness, and will do our best to be "perfect" while being assessed - that is why formal assessments of all types are inherently flawed.

We are not robots, when our "territory" is violated, we either go on the defensive or the attack. When our territory is violated, and then the perceived attack becomes even more personal, nothing productive can come of it, but it can be exceptionally damaging.

Now, my childhood was less than exceptional. Parents divorced when I was 1.5, mother remarried 3 more times (4 if you could her greatest love - the bottle), father twice. My mother's marriages were always brief, she essentially raised us on her own. There was a favourite child hint, it wasn't me and I had problems of my own fitting in with my peers. Back and forth between parents, I was essentially raising myself by the time I was 12. I was hospitalised with mental health issues at 17, and my mother and father both told the social worker they didn't want me (I wasn't trouble, or disruptive, just quiet and withdrawn). Instead, I went into a group home, then out to live independently. I worked full time and had my own place while I finished high school and went to university to earn my degree.

Needless to say, I didn't have the greatest role models for parenting. IF I could separate the emotion from my own parenting ability, I am SURE I could learn a lot that would help with Bee's challenging behaviour by having someone observe and critique the quality of our interactions. However, they would have to know about ALL of the intermeshing gears in my history, and DH's, and what has happened since Bee was born, and what happened before then, too.

If I tried to be as open and honest as I could, I would still not be able to provide all the background for the assessment to be truly transparent. Too much water has flowed under that bridge.

I've had sessions at home with CDC nursery workers that were really good and useful. Then I've had sessions at home with a child pyschologist to see how I interact with DD which quite frankly was awful! I felt le a shitty parent and the Pysch put me down constantly, told me my 3 storey house was tiny! and that dd was bored! I will never ever subject myself to that again!
If you do it just be prepared

TigerSwallowTail Mon 29-Apr-13 19:21:45

Your son is being investigated for ASD, so presumably a psychologist or paediatrician is involved, if anyone was to do a home visit I'd expect it to be one of these professionals dealing with the ASD diagnosis, not his nursery teacher.

I know that some nursery and school teachers do home visits in the transition from nursery to school but from what you've said, this is to do with his possible ASD dx, not moving to school.

Personally I'd refuse as I don't see why she should be doing a home visit, she isn't diagnosing your child.

Aika Mon 29-Apr-13 19:22:13

stressed that sounds awful! Why would she say that your house was small? Would she help you get a bigger house?

I agree with tiger and its not her place to do a home visit.

The psychs words were "oh and dd is stuck in this small house all day!" I neary smacked her! My house is average size but def not small , 3 floors and a big garden! She filmed me playing with her and criticised everything was very awkward. Needless to say she wasn't invited back again

cansu Mon 29-Apr-13 20:06:58

I agree with zzzz it's a question of privacy. Other parents would not be visited in this way and tbh I don't think that a home visit is usually necessary to diagnose ASD and certainly not by a nursery teacher. She probably has good intentions but I get very annoyed now when professionals forget that we as a family have the same right to privacy that they would expect for their own families. Having a child with ASD shouldn't mean that your parenting or interactions are questioned. When ds was first diagnosed I let a psych, an ed psych and a ASD play therapist in to see ds. None of them contributed anything useful. The play specialist faffed around with some schedules and succeeded in upsetting ds and depressing me with his lack of play skills. She came three times and accomplished nothing with ds still refusing to push the car down the ramp after three visits. The psych came and on observing ds banging his toys on the tv demonstrated how to say no stop for me as if I had never tried this. When I explained this was fine but I was unable to spend 12 hours per day next to the tv she wrote a report suggesting we needed support to control his behaviour and was never seen again. The ed psych came and blew some bubbles and jumped up and down and told us ds had significant problems and was never seen again! When dd was diagnosed three years later I was much more picky about who came to the house! Don't be bullied. I think there is far too much of this useless box ticking!

MareeyaDolores Mon 29-Apr-13 20:34:40

You could tell her she'd be very welcome for a social chat and cup of tea, or to do a well-validated assessment. But nothing in between wink

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