In For Parents, Tips & Tricks

In a previous post we talked about how CI recipients can improve their hearing and listening skills, but if it’s your child that has received a cochlear implant then there are lots of other things that you can do to develop their skills. A great way to do this is by reading to them. Books are an excellent way to not only help your child to grow their “auditory brain”.

Here are some tips that you can use to pick the right books, and how to read these books:

When to Read to Your Child

It’s important that your child is in the right mood to enjoy and appreciate book reading. Sometimes your child may not show an immediate interest in books, so try reading at different times (and in different locations) to find out what works best. Just before bed time is always a good idea, and you can also involve other family members in reading activities so that your child learns that reading books is a daily routine for the family.

Choosing What to Read to Your Child

Choosing which book to read depends on your child’s age and interests.

For very young children, picture books are a good idea. Big and colorful images can keep your child’s attention while you read, but make sure that the images are self-explanatory so that your child can easily draw connections between the image and the words.

Simple stories based on daily life can help to reinforce the language you use during your own day. Even if you work hard to speak clearly and often to your child during the day, ambient noises and other events can distract the child and make it less easy for them to learn. Using these simple stories can give you the opportunity to use similar phrases so that your child learns through repetition.

For older children, the goal is to promote higher-level listening and understanding. To do this, the focus of reading should be on the words and not the images; if images are included that’s not bad, but they don’t necessarily need to be clearly related to specific words.

Also, encourage your school-aged child to read books, newspapers, or magazines on their own. By reading aloud they can draw immediate connections between words and their sounds.

How to Read to Your Child

The key to good reading, and your child benefiting from reading, is interaction. By involving your child in the reading process you can strengthen their listening skills.

To start, make sure that both you and your child are in a comfortable position: your child could be in a chair, on your lap, or in your arms. To make sure that your speech is clear and understandable, sit behind your child and close to the same level as their audio processor(s).

When reading, speak in a conversational voice that’s not too loud and not too quiet. Using natural inflections and a sing-song voice can keep the story interesting, and also help your child to understand the meaning and emotions behind certain words. And, facial expressions with simple hand and body gestures can further emphasize to your child the different characters and plot in the story.

Along with verbal emphasis, taking breaks with reading can help your child to reflect on what you have just read. And, this can also provide opportunities for them to ask you questions about the story. When they ask questions it means that they’re engaging, so make sure to cultivate their curiosity. You can also ask leading questions yourself, like “what is he thinking” or “I wonder what she will do next”, to get your child thinking.

If your child is old enough to be able to read on their own, take advantage of this: use your finger to follow along as you read, indicating where in the text your are.

For information about specific books that could be useful for your own child, or to learn more about reading and listening activities that you can do with your child, why not contact your local MED-EL representative?

So to summarize, here’s a list of tips that you can use when reading to your child with a cochlear implant:

  • Try reading at different times (and in different locations) to find out what works best.
  • Big and colorful images can keep your child’s attention while you read.
  • Simple stories based on daily life can help to reinforce the language you use during your own day.
  • For older children, the focus of reading should be on the words and not the images.
  • Encourage your school-aged child to read books, newspapers, or magazines on their own.
  • By involving your child in the reading process you can strengthen their listening skills.
  • To make sure that your speech is clear and understandable, sit behind your child and close to the same level as their audio processor(s).
  • Using natural inflections and a sing-song voice can keep the story interesting, and also help your child to understand the meaning and emotions behind certain words.
  • Taking breaks with reading can help your child to reflect on what you have just read.
  • Use your finger to follow along as you read, indicating where in the text your are.

This post was written in cooperation with cochlear implant rehabilitation specialist Janani Jeyaraman.

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