School psychologists receive specialized training in child development, mental health, learning theory, motivation and education. They use their training and skills to work with students, parents, administrators and other mental health professionals to help every child learn in a safe and supportive environment.
What roles do school psychologists play?
Prevention – School psychologists assist in the development and implementation of programs for at-risk students. Examples include: violence prevention, diversity issues, suicide, substance abuse, truancy, teen pregnancy and peer pressure.
Intervention – School psychologists help students develop decision making and problem solving skills through individual and group counseling to enhance school functioning. School psychologists also respond to crisis situation and traumatic events.
Consultation – School psychologists help parents and teachers plan individual programs, positive behavioral interventions and effective instructional methodologies. School psychologists also consult with school staff regarding district-wide initiatives, policy decisions and curriculum development.
Assessment – School psychologists conduct formal and informal assessments to determine a student’s intellectual abilities, learning needs, achievement levels, emotional and behavioral functioning, and social skills.
Education & Planning – School psychologists conduct staff development activities for teachers to enhance their knowledge of how students learn and develop. School psychologists also provide parent education programs on issues related to child development, peer relations, family dynamics and effective use of community resources.
Advocacy – School psychologists facilitate referrals to other agencies and specialists when appropriate. School psychologist also serve as liaisons for school-community partnerships.
Why are children evaluated?
There are probably days when your child complains of an ache or sore throat. As a parent, you know something is wrong, but you may need to ask your physician to determine if your child has the flu, a cold or an infection, Besides examining your child, the doctor recommends some treatment such as bed rest and a prescription.
So it is with school difficulty. Usually the teacher and parents recognize that, for some reason, the child is not learning and/or behaving like other children his age. After consulting with you, the teacher and principal may agree to request and evaluation by the school psychologist in an effort to identify the problem and to establish a course of assistance for your child.
What is the evaluation like?
The psychological evaluation is painless and does not involve any of the elements of a physical examination which your medical doctor might perform. In fact, most children greatly enjoy the evaluation and young children frequently view it as “playing games.”
Your child is seen alone by the school psychologist in a quiet room where the two of them can talk with little interference. In the beginning, they simply talk so they get to know one another. They may discuss school, the weather, football or anything. During the individual evaluation, children may be asked to complete a test of academic aptitude that may assess their vocabulary, mathematics skills, handwriting, problem-solving skills, judgment, muscle coordination and more. Sample tasks include asking a child to copy a design, spell words, tell a story or catch a ball. Most children enjoy the individual evaluation and leave the evaluation room rather happy with the experience.
It is also important for the school psychologist to evaluate your child’s ability to adapt in a variety of social situations. The school psychologist may gather information by observing your child in the classroom, the playground and other school setting. Additionally, the psychologist may meet with your child’s teacher(s) and/or you, the parents, as a part of the total evaluation process.
What does the evaluation tell us?
Most psychological assessments that your child completes have already been given to thousands of other children. Your child’s results can be compared to other children of the same age to determine whether they are average, above average or below average in achievement, intelligence, coordination, drawing, etc. In some instances, tests/assessments are administered to tell us how children feel about themselves, their school and the like.
Children’s skill levels may also be compared to what is expected of them in the classroom, and to how they are actually performing there. It is not unusual to find that a child functions differently in different setting – home, classroom or small group instruction.
What happens after the evaluation?
The psychologist will hold a conference with you and your child’s teacher(s) to explain the evaluation results. The psychologist may recommend at-home activities for you to try with your child. Sometimes, it is recommended that a child be seen by another professional, such as a speech therapist or physician, or receive assistance by a special teacher.
It is important to have all recommendations fully explained to you since your approval is needed before any recommendations can be implemented. You should feel free to ask questions so you can clearly understand the findings and recommendations as well as your rights.
- National Association of School Psychologist
- American Psychological Association
- Illinois School Psychologists Association
- Council for Exceptional Children
Illinois State Board of Education
Response to Intervention/Multi-Tiered System of Supports
- Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence
- Downers Grove Township Division of Human Services Parent Page
- Metropolitan Family Services
- Dupage County Health Department
IDEA and 504:
- CHADD- National Resource on ADHD
- ADHD Information
- ADHD Primer
- Attention Deficit Disorder | ADHD Symptoms, Medication, Treatment …
- ADHD Attitude
Anxiety and Depression: