Celebrating Grandparents and their Role on the LSL Journey

We celebrate grandparents and the role they can play in LSL outcomes for their grandchildren who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Grandparents’ Day is September 11, which is certainly cause for celebration when we focus on the importance of the grandparent’s role when their family is on the listening and spoken language (LSL) journey. If you’re the grandparent of a child with hearing loss, your role is so very important!

Why are grandparents so important?

Parents today highly value the advice you have to offer. In fact, nearly 50 percent of parents surveyed reported they often seek information about parenting from their own mother or mother-in-law. In addition, today’s generation of grandparents provide some degree of childcare, with some actually taking on the primary caregiver role. 

We know the relationships young children develop with family members impact immediate and long-term language, cognitive and social-emotional development. Your interactions with your grandchild can actually “shape their brain.” As a bonus, this relationship can be an enriching experience for you too as you actively engage with your grandchild.

When hearing loss is diagnosed

The diagnosis of hearing loss can have a tremendous impact on you as you seek to support your adult child as well as your grandchild. When you learn about your grandchild’s diagnosis for the first time, you may feel overwhelmed because you know very little about hearing loss. You may wonder how to get up to speed on the hearing technology. You can play a key role by building a thorough understanding of the diagnosis of hearing loss, learning how the technology works and contributing to your grandchild’s listening and spoken language development. 

We’ve outlined some ways grandparents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing can be included in the process of learning to listen and talk and support their grandchild’s family on their LSL journey. 

Your support after the diagnosis and fitting of hearing technology, plus participation in early intervention when you’re able, is important to the empowerment and well-being of your grandchild’s parents. Here are some specific ways you can help:

  • With permission, accompany your grandchild and their parents to their appointments. It helps to have another adult listen, take notes and ask questions.
  • Learn everything you can about your grandchild’s hearing loss so you can be a sounding board for your adult child during important decision making times.
  • Learn about your grandchild’s hearing technology so you can ensure access to sound when your grandchild spends time with you. This means you should learn to put the hearing devices on, change the batteries and do listening checks.
  • Offer to attend and participate in early intervention so you can learn about your grandchild’s development and the LSL strategies to use when you communicate with them.
  • Share books with your grandchild as often as possible. A joy for reading can pass from one generation to the next. Time spent reading with your grandchild supports listening, language and literacy development.

As a grandparent, you’re in the unique position to share information and experiences from a different generation that can extend your grandchild’s language and development. Here are just a few examples: 

  • If you speak another language, help your grandchild learn some of the vocabulary. Children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and speak multiple languages.
  • Pass on family traditions to help your grandchild expand their language and create opportunities for interesting conversations. For example, make a traditional family recipe, sing songs, tell nursery rhymes or share family stories.
  • Read books (old and new) together so your grandchild can build their literacy skills.
  • Share what you love to do with your grandchild, such as cooking, hiking or gardening, to grow their vocabulary and expand their experiences.

There’s a lot to do in the early years to teach little ones to listen and talk. Their parents are their first and best teachers, but your role as their grandparent, is just as important.. Your support and encouragement throughout their LSL journey will help your family achieve the best possible listening and spoken language outcomes.