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If your child is in mainstream school and has learning difficulties/concentration problems, do they join in at group times?

(19 Posts)
used2bthin Sat 25-Jun-11 09:04:56

DD due to start school in sept. She has SLI and her understanding is quite impaired, about a two and a hlf year old level. School will have a TA supporting her who will be providing visual aids and pre tutoring but some of the work I feel will still be inappropriate level for DD.

When I said to her new teacher on a visit that hearing them talk about phonics work is scaring me a bit as DD is still on targets to get her using three word sentances- she just isn't at the spellings stage, the teacher said they make it fun its not just sitting down listening.

I just think regardless of whether DD has fun she won't be able to answer group questions and it will knock her confidence. I know they also will use toys for her to fiddle with during group time on the advice of the SALT as Dd finds it hard to sit still. Again this worries me a bit as there is no point her learning to sit stilll for the sake of it unless the work is relevant to her.

Having serious doubts about mainstream and the draft statement is predictably saying she needs fifteen hours one to one support- school have said they will challenge this but I still feel our LA just isn't wanting to meet her needs. Any advice or am I being over the top about the group time?

signandsmile Sat 25-Jun-11 09:12:30

I usedto I haven't got lots of useful things to say, only what our experience has been... at pre-school ds's one to one has supported him to stay on the mat and 'listen' for stuff like phonics, some of which he has started to get. when they have story he goes off to soft play (in the unit attached to the school) and gets to pick someoine to go with him, to develop 'playing with'. when they sing the welcome song he is usually outside the door in the outer play area with the TA, as he is v noise sensitive with singing. but he has gradually opened the door and listened a bit.

I am expecting similar at school in Sept, (he has 27 hr TA statement, which was a fight to get, they offered 15 to start with, I think it is the default position) encouragement to do what he can with a withdrawl for what he can't. (altho I am sure there will be a bit of 'juggling' to work out which is which). wink

mummytime Sat 25-Jun-11 09:17:59

First were these statements made in a one on one with you, or as part of a general class introduction?
I would try to make a specific appointment with the teacher. Asking her if she understands the statement for your child, and what experience she has of such children? Also ask how much support she is getting, and how experienced the TA is.
I have known children thrive in main stream, but the school has been fully behind the placement and has worked hard to make it work.

used2bthin Sat 25-Jun-11 09:30:16

Thanks both of you. Singandsmile hi your DS's pre school sounds lovely. The head said expect them to say 15hours and they will then ask for more so at least she is agreeing that she needs more. And good point about picking up some of it. Som of phonics ie making the sounds will be good for her speech therapy wise but I just panicked at the thought of her completely diengaging.

mummytime it was a whole class thing but we have had meetings with school, SENCO, ed psych and SALT which were about the amount of support she will need and the school are at least very willing to support her I am just a bit worried now that the (newly qualified but experienced in the setting) teacher has missed the point. I think in a way its more that she explained it badly though possibly? I was getting tearful and I think I was probably a stressful parent to deal with! The TA they want is very experienced and the idea was DD would be building a relationship with her this term but it hasnt happened yet as the statement has taken ages. Actually I think we have a meeting the week after next so hopefully the TA will be at that one.

Its awful because the teacher is so nice but I can't help feeling that as DD is one of the only kids there with SN they could have put her with the SENCO who also has a keygroup in the unit. Its a foundation unit with lots of teachers so its probably more important that she gets the right one to one support though I guess. I just have more confidence in two of the other teachers there who I know better and come across as more confident.

Triggles Sat 25-Jun-11 10:50:55

DS2 is in reception, with full time 1:1, and they try to include him in group things as much as possible. They basically go by what he can tolerate - if he seems to be enjoying it or making an effort to participate, then he will be in the group a bit longer. If it's not working or he gets frustrated too much, they will go off and do something else for a bit to allow him time to calm down. It's all trial and error, really, but they always encourage him to try, which I think is important. Some days he does better than others, but if they don't try, how will he ever gain experience?

EllenJaneisnotmyname Sat 25-Jun-11 12:26:03

My DS was mornings only in Reception, afternoons in his early years special school. I think his time in reception was more about getting used to the school routines and having to conform (with support) rather than learning anything much. He actually enjoyed Jolly Phonics, it's very good at engaging all the children with a mix of visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning styles, strong pictures, songs and rhymes with actions. They often use puppets which make 'mistakes' to encourage the children to join in. Schools use Letters and Sounds now, but usually with the Jolly Phonics songs, pictures and actions.

Talk to the teacher and discuss your concerns with her, she may have been nervous herself at the parents' meeting and felt she didn't answer your questions as well as she could.

bdaonion Sat 25-Jun-11 13:01:04

My DD (5.0, also SLI) started in mainstream reception last reception. At Easter she transferred to another with a language resource attached because we were offered a place and it was too good an opportunity to turn down. That said, when she started at her original school I had the exact same concerns about how she would cope in the group settings and with the phonics, but she actually managed better than I thought. I was given the opportunity to observe her in the class for a circle time (along with other parents) and when it came to her turn she had a go at saying something. Might not have been the exact answer to the question, and it not perfectly clear but it was said with confidence. The teacher then translated what she said for the rest of the class (as best she could!), but not in a patronising way. The teacher also used a toy to guide who's turn it was to speak, and if any child did not want to say anything they were allowed to pass it on, no questions asked. Suprisingly it was actually the more confident kids in the group who elected to pass! Kids at this age tend to more forgiving and accept the other children for who they are, and DD had no problems making friends.

As far as phonics is concerned, have you ever looked at starfall.com? Although it is an American site so some words are pronounced slightly differently, I found it was a great way for DD to learn her letters and their sounds. She went into school with a foundation of sorts and so the actual "teaching" part was much easier for her to grasp.

The only other thing I would say is to keep an eye on your DD's anxiety levels. My DD did start biting her nails and chewing at her fingers once she started school. She didn't have any 1:1 support in place on entry because we were going through the assessment procedure, although she is now statemented for 30 hours.

signandsmile Sat 25-Jun-11 18:19:53

just a ps, I didn't expect my ds to be at all into phonics (as speech is very 'new' for him.) pre-school just do S,A,T,P,I and N. (and he is recognising lots of 'whole words', so I expected him to go that route, like lots of kids with Downs) but has started recognising those 6, and some more too shock Do you know 'alphablocks' on Cbeebies? ds has enjoyed those and I have been using the characters from it with ds. (he likes sad faces, as he can recognise what that means, hmm, and the W cries going, 'wa wa waaaaaH' and he got to recognise W from that.

I talked to school about the fact he might not 'get' phonics, and am planning to read up on 'whole word recognision' (just in case I need to 'help' them wink)

signandsmile Sat 25-Jun-11 18:24:50

PPs blush just re read that, he doesnt have downs, I just have a friend with a son who does and she was telling me about whole word recognision.

used2bthin Sun 26-Jun-11 08:16:21

Thanks for the replies. Triggles your DS sounds like he is doing well do they do the pre tutoring thing first?

Ellenjane thats good to know and sounds similar to some of the SALT work DD had in her last group block that we did. The SALT she has now as outreach works very differently and hasn't been doing so much work on sounds and I feel has gone back to basics a bit so it will be interesting to see how DD finds it and challenge her a bit, I think the teacher was trying to explain that it is fun but all I was hearing is it doesn't matter if the work is an inappropriate level for DD, I think it probably was the case that she was nervous and I am probably not the easiest parent atm as am a bit of a wreck and they know I wanted a language unit for DD really. I will speak to her especially as the statement draft is very vague so may take a while to sort.

bdanonion how is the language resource unit going and have you noticed a difference for your DD? I will check out starfall, thank you. You are right about the other children. Socially DD is very confident considering and I just want to preserve that. She tends to play with younger boys and does lots of running around "doing" type of play so is quite popular partly because she is rather daring! Her behaviour is getting really tricky atm though and I suspect she is beginning to get frustrated and am worried that she'd be sitting down feeling excluded.

But you have all made me feel much calmer thank you and good to hear so many children managing. I think I just have to have a go and see how she does. I may be able to get her into a language unit in two years time possibly before but for now this is what we have to do so I guess I just need to keep an eye on it all.

bdaonion Sun 26-Jun-11 10:10:43

Language resource is going really well. Definitely seeing good progress in DD's understanding and expressive speech (her problems are receptive based too), and her anxiety levels are bordering on "normal" now. I am really pleased we made the decision to move her, despite grave misgivings as she had really settled socially at her original school.

Have you taken your DD for a visit to your local language unit? The reason I ask is that it really helped us for the teachers/SALT to see her and know who she was. We were having real difficulties even getting an SA for DD (despite CELF scores of less that 1%!!) but once the resource were aware of her and how she was a good "fit" they started putting pressure on the LA too. Might be worth having them put a face to the name so to speak?

used2bthin Sun 26-Jun-11 10:45:41

I haven't but have left them voice messages as our parent partnership helper suggested we did. They have no children under nine at present but in theory take them from 7. Seems the wrong way round to me, I'd hoped DD could start in a unit and end up in mainstream but I think our LA isn't great for this stuff.

We have our draft statement it is VAGUE though, I mean really vague so am sending it to our parent partnership support to look it over. It is such a long process isn't it?! We went to look around a unit in a bordering county about half an hour away as well as Ican school and both said she would be a good fit in a unit so they sound similar, DD 1% too!

What I am pleased with in the draft statement is it highlights that although dd struggles severely with language understanding her cognitive ability is age appropriate so am hoping that helps with the fight for a unit. Like your DD she does well socially at school/playgroup and has friends so it would be tough but long term I think a unit would be the most helpful. I will get onto the local one tomorrow I think!

Triggles Sun 26-Jun-11 22:33:27

ok, feeling silly now, but pretutoring? blush not sure what specifically that would entail (is that an official term?) but the main TA does prep work in advance whenever possible for DS2, if that's what you mean? grin Just so he knows what to expect and so that the information has already been presented to him once.

bdaonion Sun 26-Jun-11 22:44:00

Yeah, I agree, the age range seems a little backwards. I think if your local unit only takes children from 7 you should see if you can get your DD into the one in the neighbouring borough. DD's unit stressed repeatedly how they like to get them in as early as possible - she was considered a "late comer" at 4.9, they like them at 3 in the nursery really. The aim is to get them caught up and back integrated into the child's local mainstream by the end of KS1 wherever possible.

Eveiebaby Sun 26-Jun-11 23:04:32

Usedtob - I think the key issue is getting your dd more support. 15 hours will not be enough. It seems that your DD's school recognises this so at least that is good. If your DD's understanding is that of a 2 1/2 year old she simply will not be able to access a curriculum designed for 4-5 year olds. From what you have described your DD's social skills sound really good which is a real positive I'm sure she will make friends quickly. My dd is 5.0 has 25 hrs 1:1 which she really needs as she is very easily distracted (ASD) and has very poor peer social skills sad. Her understanding is age appropriate but I'm sure the making of her for her reception year in school has certainly been the 1:1 support she gets. As she virtually gets full time support in the classroom her LSA can concentrate more on her weak areas eg she also has motor skills issues but again has improved tremendously over the last few months as her LSA works with her on this at school as well as me working with her at home. I wouldn't worry too much about her answering in group time as there are NT's kids who struggle with this and I'm sure her teacher/TA will help her out.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 27-Jun-11 07:37:16

Hi usedto,

re your comment:-

"We have our draft statement it is VAGUE though, I mean really vague so am sending it to our parent partnership support to look it over".

How long have you had this document?.

No don't send it to PP (they are not always independent of the LEA in question), what you could also do is speak to one of the charities out there who are good at this type of issue e.g IPSEA, SOSSEN etc. If its as vague as you write it is, it will have to be rejected by yourselves.

What does Parts 2 and 3 say exactly; you will need to quote the statement to them verbatim.

Is SALT in part 2 as well as three; if it is not then that alone is grounds for rejection.

used2bthin Mon 27-Jun-11 08:27:18

Triggles sorry yes they call it pre tutoring at DD's school! And yes its just the same as preparing beforehand, they show DD props and go over what they will do then during the activity props again to remind her. I can't exactly picture her listening atm but apparently she does sometimes!

Parent partnership worker says that we should puch for a unit and she has supported a family who won a tribunal to get into a unit at neighbouring county recently. She is actually not from this area but has offered to support us as speech and lang disorders are her speciality and she feels strongly that they are needed early on. So I think she will fight our corner but I take that point and will ring IPSEA today too to run it past them. Only got the draft saturday.

The SALT bit is the vague bit, it says dd will need SALT in one or more of the following ways... One of the things on the list is SALT to train staff so worst case scenario that could be all DD got!

Luckily the head at school was v clear that she would be expecting them to try and offer 15 hours and she would then be saying it isn't enough so she had already warned me this would be what happened. They want full time support.

Triggles Mon 27-Jun-11 10:28:50

used2bthin - no worries - I didn't have near the amount of caffeine as usual yesterday, so I think I was a bit slow to pick up the train of thought. I'm trying to cut down on caffeine, but thinking maybe not a good idea. I could use the "it's good for my mental health" excuse grin

used2bthin Tue 28-Jun-11 08:28:41

Me too triggles and have found I get anxious with too much of it but get more done! Hard choice!

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