Psychomotricity in France

(25 Posts)
usuallydormant Mon 16-Dec-13 07:27:04

I was wondering if anyone had experience of using a psychomotricienne in France?

DS is 6.5 and in CP. I would say he is a very normal little boy, has lots of friends, plays team and individual sports and is full of imagination. He's a sociable little boy, if a bit scatterbrained. We speak English in the house, but he goes to the village school where he is the only bilingual child. He had a bit of soutien in GS to help with pronunciation before starting to read but this is now sorted. He's also had some slight maths problems, but nothing too serious.

So this year they have started writing in earnest and his cursive is appalling. For me, it is probably connected to his lack of concentration in things he is not interested in and it is certainly something we have to address (my writing was also problematic and maths not always straightforward for me but it all worked out in the end). So he, along with a good few others, have been having special classes in writing from another teacher. Last week, the directrice, who is also his class teacher suggested we take him to a psychomotrienne for an interview, so we did. As I said he is a bit scatterbrained, not one for sitting still and can wear his clothes inside out without noticing, which apparently are all markers for not being able to organize your personal space. I would add that we are very happy with the school, the staff is wonderful and my son and daughter love going to school.

It's not an area I know much about. The advice I hear (from my teacher friends in the international system) is some kids, especially boys, take a bit longer to sit still and reach these milestones and he is displaying behavior typical of many 6 year old boys, don't worry about testing until he is seven. But of course, he is in CP in the French system and if they can't understand his writing, he basically can't express himself.

So, I wasn't much impressed by the pscychmotricienne - who kept us watiting for an hour and then said she didn't notice the time which doesn't bode well for someone who is meant to help my son organize himself. While the theory sounds fine, my instinct is that he needs to practice his handwriting for another term before putting him into a type of therapy.

Does anyone have any experience of using this kind of therapy or had similar handwriting problems in CP and can offer some advice? Thanks!

OP’s posts: |
Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:01:37

Therapy, in the form of psychomotricité and orthophonie, is often recommended by French teachers in CP/CE1 and even further up the school. You need to do it because (a) the school will not help (b) school will think you aren't interested in helping your child if you don't and you will come across as an unsupportive and uncooperative parent. Your child will be the one for whom teachers have no sympathy!

However, you are more than free to look around for another therapist if you don't like the first one.

Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:02:57

And, much as your friends in the international system may be sympathetic, standards and expectations in the French system are different and IMVHO it is not worth fighting them!

usuallydormant Mon 16-Dec-13 08:18:01

As the psychomotricié is totally private and not officially connected to the school or health service, I wasn't sure if it was a standard recommendation or not.

I understand fully that we need to work with the French system, we have chosen deliberately not to go the international route and I am not trying to fight it, but understand more about it. Your direct experiences of it would be useful or perhaps links to explain more about the approach .

OP’s posts: |
Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:27:39

I don't think that the approach is necessarily any good at all - my opinion is that you just have to do it or else the teachers write off your child and don't bother helping him/her as it looks as if the parents don't care, IYSWIM.

runningmad Mon 16-Dec-13 08:31:54

Oh Bonsoir, I must steal your words when advising parents looking at local schools who are still in "home country" mode.

Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:34:23



usuallydormant Mon 16-Dec-13 08:38:41

Thanks for your opinions.

We are not being told to do this by any stretch of the imagination, rather a why don't you talk to this person and have a think. We know the head well and I'm quite certain she won't write us off as uncaring parents if we ask to wait a term before going down this route/ask to try an alternative route such as orthophonie, or ask some more questions about the approach overall. It's not a put up or shut up attitude in the school, certainly not at this point.

OP’s posts: |
PetiteRaleuse Mon 16-Dec-13 08:42:10

Oh the joys of the French system. OP I would play along. They aren't really saying he has a problem as such, just that his psychomotricité needs to be worked on. From what I can tell they like to see potential issues asap and get them up to scratch.

My DD1 is not even 3 and at nursery they are ready talking about how she will need an orthophoniste once she goes to school. And they say it in such a way you'd think they were doing me a favour. Which I suppose they are, kind of.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 16-Dec-13 08:43:22

If you say you want to see how it goes for a term they won't mind. It's the parents who point blank refuse that get blacklisted, for want of a better word.

Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:47:21

I agree with PetiteRaleuse. In France, you need to go through the motions of looking like a cooperative parent and taking the school's advice without asking too many questions.

usuallydormant Mon 16-Dec-13 08:56:11

I don't have an issue with the idea of him getting help at all, I just want to know more about it, apart from what one professional has told us! I don't see why the posts are assuming I want to re-write or buck the French system, I just wanted to know more about it from other parents who have been through it, given how it is not a usual approach in my home country. Or to understand why that approach and not orthophonie.

I fully accept that my son's handwriting is terrible, he needs help and actually I am very pleased the school is taking an interest but I want to understand what they are talking about before I sign up for an expensive and time-consuming programme which is currently being presented to us as an option, not compulsory. I was hoping that someone whose child has been through psychomotricity classes would be able to share their experiences.

OP’s posts: |
Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 08:58:32

How about: I fully understand your desire to know more about it, and sympathise, but actually it's a load of unscientific mumbo-jumbo. Nevertheless, you have to go along with it or else the school will think you don't care and will therefore not help your DS.

bunnyfrance Mon 16-Dec-13 09:06:31

What did the psychomotricienne actually say, usually? Did you just go for a "bilan", or has she now suggested a series of rendez-vous?
I don't have any direct experience with them, just reading this thread with interest, as we have been advised to take our 4-year old DS to an orthophoniste for a "bilan" - we have an appointment early January. I'm quite interested to hear what she has to say about him....
Sorry I don't have anything more useful to add!

Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 09:11:26

Orthophonie can be very helpful for DC with pronunciation problems, something that often affects DC with more than one language at home. Orthophonistes also do remedial phonics instruction for DC who have failed to learn to read/write well enough using mixed methods.

PetiteRaleuse Mon 16-Dec-13 09:48:48

I agree Bonsoir they can be invaluable because if reading or speech lags in the French system the kids are pretty screwed as the class will just progress without you. Pretty much every little village has one here as we are in an area with lots of bilingualism due to the border being so close and lots of int'l financial/EU people choosing to live in France and commute cross border to Lux.

OP wasn't suggesting you are resisting, just pointing out that resistance is not advisable. I have no direct experience with a therapist of this kind. I'm even trying to work out if there is an equivalent in the UK. I would go back and ask questions, both from the teacher and the therapist. You could also ask your teacher to ask another parent who has used the service if they would talk to you about it (sounds like a friendly school).

I'm always stumped at nursery when they announce they've been doing psychomotricite that day. It sounds kind of like gym but not quite. I suppose it's spatial awareness but we wouldn't have specific classes for that in the uk would we?

Bonsoir Mon 16-Dec-13 10:23:36

Psychomotricité is supposed to boost coordination, spatial awareness, organisation and gross and fine motor skills.

Different approaches exist. There is one psychomotricienne in Paris who comes to the DC's home and observes the family and then tells the parents/carers how to adapt their behaviour so that their DC's become more autonome. Others do exercises in their practices and sometimes ask parents to practice with their DC at home.

Slimchance Mon 16-Dec-13 13:55:14

When my daughter was in maternelle here in Belgium, the entire class did psychomotricité as a matter of course. It is intended to develop and enhance all the skills that Bonsoir has listed below.

The way they used to do it was through music and movement on a large scale, for example, using their arms and legs to form the shapes of letters and numbers, using their hands and fingers and feet and toes to "write" letters and numbers in the air or on the floor, according to a set sequence of exercises.

Then on a more miniscule level: pricking paper with tiny holes using small skewers to form the shapes of letters and numbers following a pattern, or directing a fine stream of sand to "write" over letters and numbers while it streams through a tiny funnel.

I agree with you that boys are sometimes behind and need time to gain control over fine motor skills. I'm no expert but I doubt if the above exercises or similar would do any harm - might even help - dd certainly enjoyed them!

PetiteRaleuse Mon 16-Dec-13 19:07:06

That's really interesting, thankssmile

BriocheDoree Mon 16-Dec-13 20:39:17

My son also has terrible handwriting and is in CP. he saw a psychomotricienne when younger for a slight delay in gross motor skills (though only really because the teacher insisted!). In CP he now sees a graphotherapeute for his handwriting: someone who specialises in "la rééducation de l'écriture" and this has been much more successful IMO than classic "psychomotricité" would have been as this is someone specialised in handwriting. However, still not covered by SECU. I don't mind helping him along as he really struggles and it was making him lose confidence in school.

BriocheDoree Mon 16-Dec-13 20:41:59

Oh and your psychomotricienne does sound a bit disorganised! The one we saw was thoroughly professional!

usuallydormant Mon 16-Dec-13 21:11:22

Thanks for all your input, it's very interesting. I know the obsession with handwriting here so I do want to work with the school to make sure it doesn't hold him back. We had an initial interview and the next step would be a bilan (which would be three séances) before any classes. It kind of seems that by the time any progress would be made he might have improved of his own accord!

Anyway the school nurse was in doing the yearly check up today and it appears that his sight has gone from 20/20 to 20/6 in the last yearsad DS didn't think to mention it as the other one works fine...So a totally different worry now and we can probably put the psychomotricity on hold for a bit, although am sure it will come back. Thanks again!

OP’s posts: |
PetiteRaleuse Mon 16-Dec-13 22:03:06

Really fascinating thread. As I said when they talk about psychomotricité I had understood gym and spatial awareness.

DH said earlier when I mentioned it that orthophoniste isn't just speech therapy but also reading and writing help but reimbursed by the secu if prescribed by a paed. Might be worth going down that route. I had understood orthophoniste as being a speech therapist but it seems they are more than that.

bunnyfrance Tue 17-Dec-13 08:38:17

That's a big drop in sight, usually, which might explain his other difficulties. Maybe if you get that fixed up first, he will catch up in other areas by himself.

rushingrachel Mon 23-Dec-13 13:01:57

My son has psychomotricite twice a week here in Brussels for a lag in gross and fine motor skills and it has been worth more than gold. It is one of the things I would give the system here a gold star for. I would describe it as a little akin to occupational therapy and far far far far from unscientific.

They do loads of things. Hoop and trampoline based activities for the gross motor side, some funny exercises going up and down stairs in order which he loves; rolling and jumping and various sequences of the two. And lots and lots of ball based activities to develop hand eye coordination.

For fine motor skills they do lots of things to try to strengthen my sons hand grip. He had very weak grip in his hands and you can feel it. Ask your son to squeeze two of your fingers as hard as he can ten times. I could physically feel the force draining out of DSs little hands through the sequence. He still finds if tough. They work with play doh, chalk , buttons, stringing. And now are really trying to help him develop a looser pencil grip so he isn't pressing so hard and getting tired. I have 5 minutes with the psychomotricien every week who tells me how things are going and what we can do at home.

The difference between how he was and how he is on the gross motor skills particularly is amazing.

Now when I was first told to try this I thought it was mumbo jumbo. How could half an hour playing chalk do any good? Well it has ... And since I have been taking it seriously I have seen marked improvements. I would counsel strongly against the "the school say we should but it's probably rubbish" approach suggested above. As with all things with kids you have to buy into them as a parent or they won't produce results.

Also the psychomotricien has been a loyal ally of ours whenever the school raise issues about our sons writing. He is extremely encouraging of our son and really it takes all the "failure" associated with the school environment out of the issue. He's just a friendly fun guy there to help and our son responds to that.

Our psychomotricien is exceptionally punctual, and very definite. As with all medical professionals I think you have to trust them so if you didn't like the first maybe try another.

At least in Belgium it is reimbursed by the mutuelle so long as you have a prescription and some pesky attestation.

Good luck.

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