Beginning school is an important step in your child’s life. It can also be a time of worry 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 with your child’s transition to school.
1: Introduce Their Hearing Device
Before school starts, schedule to meet with the class teacher about your child’s device/s and how it works. Show them how to change the batteries, and what the indicator lights mean. 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..
2: Use A Remote Microphone
Classroom environments can be noisy, so many children use remote microphones or FM systems to help them hear the teacher more clearly. Devices such as AudioLink are ideal for hearing the teacher across a busy classroom. Talk to your child’s audiologist about whether an FM system would be appropriate for your child, and then work together with your child’s teacher to introduce the system in the classroom.
3: Talk Regularly To The Teacher
Your child’s teacher can be your greatest asset for a smooth and successful school year. Establish open communication and a team working approach to supporting your child together. It is good to communicate regularly with your child’s class teacher. This might be about important information such as assignments, tests, homework and school events to ensure your child completes tasks on time and is prepared for upcoming 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. Ask your child’s teacher about their preferred method of communication.
4: Ask About Additional Support
Many schools have a teacher of the deaf, special education teacher 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
Talk to the teacher about the importance of distance and preferential seating for your child to hear clearly. Your child will be able to hear more clearly if they are close to the teacher. Sitting in the second row can be good, so that your child can hear and see their teacher talking and also ‘spy’ on their classmates in front of them 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. Explain to the teacher, that your child may have difficulty hearing from a distance. Gaining your child’s attention and moving closer to them when giving instructions, will allow them to hear more clearly.
6: Talking Strategies
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 while speaking. 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 minimize echo (reverberation). Expecting classmates to talk one at a time will also help your child hear what is being said and follow conversation.
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 and confidence. Plan play dates with classmates so that your child can meet and get to know their peers before school begins.
9: Be Prepared
Before leaving for school each day, make sure your child’s device/s 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!
Want to share this information with your child’s teacher? Download our guide for teachers of hearing implant recipients:
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