Elementary years bring new experiences as your child starts to explore their independence and pursue their interests.
Around this age, they’re starting to become their own advocate for their hearing, whether they’ve been wearing devices since they were a baby or just recently started. You can help them thrive in these new experiences at school and beyond.
Starting a new school year can feel overwhelming for everyone — parents, students, and teachers. There are ways to prepare for a smooth transition to a new year, especially to help your child with hearing loss succeed in listening, learning, and socializing.
When your child is deaf or hard of hearing, you have a unique set of considerations when planning for the upcoming year. Planning early and communicating regularly with your child's teachers and IEP team will make a big difference.
These handouts offer tips to help you prepare and set your child and yourself up for success:
Around this age your child's interests will expand, which can mean sports or afterschool activities. You can expect your child to fully participate in activities just like kids with typical hearing. Explore different activities your child may enjoy, consider the unique social and learning opportunities, and prepare them to fully participate like any other child.
Learn the rules of the game. Maybe your child has been watching basketball with you since they were a baby, or hockey is a new sport for the whole family to learn to love. Take time to talk through the rules and use the vocabulary with your child. If they're going to be wearing a helmet, help your child practice taking it on and off in a way that won't disrupt their devices.
Research shows learning to play an instrument at a young age improves school performance. It's no exception for children who are deaf or hard of hearing! If you're considering music lessons for your child, explore different types of instruments to see what interests your child. Before lessons begin, practice different music vocabulary at home with your child.
Dance lessons and classes provide opportunities for your child to integrate music and movement. If your child participates in dance classes, schedule a private lesson or virtual session ahead of time so your child can pre-learn important vocabulary for dance positions and terminology used in classes. If you can't schedule something in advance, ask the teacher to share which positions will be taught. You can find many videos or helpful guides online so you can practice with your child at home.
Whatever the activity, practicing the rules and vocabulary can help your child succeed and have more fun. When you're deciding on an afterschool program or a formal club like scouts or chess, consider the listening environment and make a plan so your child can hear everything they need to.
Taking swim lessons or just splashing with friends in a pool, your child can enjoy all the benefits and fun of swimming. Swimming is an important life skill for every child. A water device protection kit will be important. Talk to your audiologist about what makes sense for your child and their devices. They may make custom swim plugs or recommend a swimming headband.
Talk with your child and their coaches or instructors to come up with a game plan so your child can get the most out of these experiences.
Coaches or instructors should ask your child to repeat what they heard to check for understanding of any directions.
In a noisy environment, a signal to get your child's attention can be helpful. Remote microphone systems can help your child hear well amidst noise or at a distance.
Make sure the coach or instructor knows how to use the microphone appropriately. They need to know when to turn it on and off — your child won't want to listen to the coach talking to another child.
Practicing terms and directions in the quiet of your home can help your child get a handle on the different tasks.
Talk to your child about how to self-advocate and let the coach or instructor know when they aren't hearing something or need help with their devices.
Many children start having sleepovers with family or friends at this age. For some parents this can raise questions about hearing device care, especially when your child goes to sleep at night.
Prepare a bag or kit containing extra batteries or chargers for your child's devices. Talk with your child about their plan for putting their devices away at night and have them demonstrate several times how they will care for their equipment. Share about your child's hearing loss, their devices, and any helpful information with the adult in charge. Plan to be on call if anything comes up and encourage them to call you with any concerns. Video calls can be a helpful way to troubleshoot and verify any issues with the devices.
Talk with your child about your expectations for manners and effective communication with family members or friends. For younger school-age children, you can ask open-ended questions about what they can do as a guest at a friend's house. Create a discussion with questions like, "what are some ways you can ask if your friend's parents need help with setting or clearing the table?" or "what are some strategies you can use when you need clarification on what someone says or asks?" Your child's confidence and self-advocacy skills will play an important role in these social situations.
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Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. Thousands of parents have been in your shoes. Find other parents who can share from experience, offer encouragement, and help your family reach your LSL goals.
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Outstanding Website: HearingFirst.org
Best Advocacy Website: StartsHear.org