School has been back in session for a few weeks now, so it’s a good time to check in with your child’s teacher. This is the perfect opportunity to ensure a supportive environment for your child’s education. For your child’s teacher, it may be the first time they have worked with a student with hearing loss or a child with a cochlear implant. As a parent, you will have been learning and collecting information about your child’s hearing loss and device since their diagnosis. You have the ability to offer support and advice to your child’s teacher.
It’s important to maintain regular communication with your child’s teacher and the school support staff. It can be helpful to meet one-on-one with your child’s teacher, either at a parent-teacher interview or a self-organized meeting. You can review your child’s individualized education plan and see if any changes might be needed. You also might like to check out the classroom yourself, to get a visual understanding of your child’s setup. Through speaking with the teacher, you can find out how your child is progressing and where you can offer support. Here are some questions you might like to ask your child’s teacher:
Does my child respond well to directions?
Is my child actively participating in classroom activities?
Has my child shown any difficulty in hearing in different situations?
How well is my child interacting with other classmates?
Do their classmates understand hearing loss and/or cochlear implants?
Have there been any major challenges for you in teaching my child? If so, can I help in any way?
Have there been any changes at school in regards to my child, either positive or negative?
Would you like any further information about hearing loss or CIs for yourself or to share with the students?
Supporting your child’s teacher
The teacher may have a lot of questions about how to best support your child with a cochlear implant. They may think they need to change their teaching style or change their speaking volume. Your child’s teacher may be unsure if they should pay special attention to your child, or let them be independent.
As a parent with in-depth daily experience, you can offer help and knowledge to your child’s teacher where appropriate. This will empower your child’s teacher to give your child the best education possible. When you meet with the teacher, ask questions, but also share information that will help them. Talk about your child’s learning style at home, and their personal strengths. Provide the teacher with resources, such as MED-EL’s tips for teaching students with hearing loss. Let them know about different technology available, such as assistive listening devices. You may also like to offer to have a visiting Teacher of the Deaf accompany your child to school on occasion to give further hands-on assistance.
In all communications, help the teacher feel confident in their actions in teaching a student with hearing loss. It’s important that they don’t feel unprepared or unsupported in teaching your child—they need to be well-equipped with the right knowledge and information! Remind the teacher that in some ways, teaching in a classroom where there’s a student with hearing loss, is exactly the same as teaching in any other classroom. For example, it’s important to ensure that instructions are presented clearly, classmates speak one at a time, and background noise and other distractions are minimized.
Preparing at home
At home, you can prepare your child for school, which will help them achieve in the classroom. Although your child may be doing well at home with words that they are familiar with, they will be regularly presented with new information at school. It can be difficult for your child to perform when these words are unfamiliar. Help to prepare your child by pre-teaching vocabulary and new coursework content. You can also do this with your child’s hearing specialist. This will allow your child to get the most benefit from a day’s lesson.
Keep open and regular communication with your child’s teacher, parents of classmates and other school support staff. Ultimately, communication is key to best supporting your child!
Download this detailed brochure Hearing Implants and the Classroom and share with your child’s teacher. It has lots of helpful information for teaching a child with a hearing implant, including audio processor basics, suggestions for creating a good learning environment, and details about hearing loss.
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