Beginning school is an important step in your child’s life. It can also be a time of concern for you as a parent, particularly if your child is the only student with hearing loss in their classroom. This article has some handy tips to help smooth your child’s transition to school.
1: Introduce Their Hearing Device
Before school starts, talk to the class teacher about your child’s audio processor and how it works. Show them how to change the batteries, and how to check that the coil is working, if there is one. Also share basic troubleshooting tips. Let the teacher know that you are happy to help with any questions. It’s important to tell the teacher that they should let you know you if they notice a change in your child’s hearing, or if there is something unusual happening with the device.
2: Use Wireless Microphones
Classroom environments can be noisy, so many children use wireless microphones, such as the Roger™ system from Phonak or the Siemens miniTek, to help them hear the teacher more clearly. Talk to your child’s audiologist about using which system would be best for your child, and then work together with the teacher to introduce the system in the classroom.
3: Talk Regularly To The Teacher
It is good to communicate regularly with your child’s class teacher. This might be about important information such as assignments, tests, homework and upcoming school events. It can also be important to talk about any incidents that happen in the classroom or playground with your child. This communication does not necessarily have to be face-to-face: notebooks work well, as do emails or text messages.
4: Ask About Additional Support
Many schools have a teacher of the deaf or speech therapist who can support your child at school and help to develop their language skills. Ask the teacher about what support is available for your child.
5: Find The Right Seat
Use the Ling Six Sound Test to help you identify the optimal listening distances for your child. This can then help you to decide where in the classroom they should sit to best hear their teacher. Sitting in the second row can be good, so that your child can see their teacher talking and also ‘spy’ on their classmates in front to see which text or resource they are using. It is also important that your child sits away from noise sources such as fans, open windows or doors.
6: Ask The Teacher To Talk Appropriately
Chat with your child’s teacher about the importance of using normal speaking volumes when speaking with your child. Using a louder voice can make it harder to hear all the speech sounds clearly, and it distorts lip patterns. Also explain the need to face the class and not the blackboard. If the teacher is talking to the class while writing something on the blackboard, the sound can be muffled and your child may not hear what is being said.
7: Improve The Classroom Acoustics
Children learn best in quiet environments with little background noise. Suggest ways to reduce the background noise such as closing windows and doors, and introduce carpets and curtains to minimise reverberation.
8: Help Your Child Develop A Social Circle
Social relationships and friendships are extremely important for every child’s well-being. Children who feel socially included can often be more successful at school. You can support your child by encouraging them to talk about their implants with their classmates. Generally, children will have questions about the device, and then move onto other topics once their curiosity is satisfied. If your child can tell their hearing story with confidence, they can then move onto more important discussions, such as what to do at break-time! If the class teacher feels confident about managing the device and communicating with your child, this will also be shared with the other students and further support your child’s sense of inclusion.
9: Be Prepared
Before leaving for school each day, make sure your child’s audio processor is working. Complete the Ling Six Sound Test. Pack an extra set of batteries, a spare cable, and any other necessary equipment, to make sure everything is ready for their school day.
We hope your child’s first days starting school with a hearing implant are a fun adventure on their road to learning and hearing!
Download our guide here for teachers of cochlear implant recipients.
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