Can you believe that August is here already and it’s time to start thinking about getting back into the school routine? The beginning of the school year is an exciting time, but it can also be filled with anxiety on the part of parents, students with hearing loss, and school staff. How will other students react to my child’s cochlear implants? How can I best teach a child with hearing loss in my classroom? How can I give my students the skills they need to build strong peer relationships? How can I keep track of my child’s hearing equipment at school? How do I write a strong IEP?
Fear not — I’ve got you covered. Presenting… the Back to School Guide for Students with Hearing Loss!
ACADEMIC: IEPs, Accommodations, Advocacy, and more!
It’s important to begin the school year with a strong IEP. This article will help you make sure you’ve written goals to cover all areas of your child’s development. For even more help in crafting a great IEP, check out our IFSP/IEP toolkit. Learn about your rights, and remember to use good parent advocacy strategies, too! [You can even take this greatParent Advocacy Training course from AG Bell for free!] Older students (middle school and high school) may benefit from our Self Advocacy 101 tips.
Accommodations, like FM or soundfield systems, may be of use to your child. When thinking about which accommodations to request, we should think about creating a fine balance between what the child needs to succeed, and what the child needs to grow into an independent, functional member of the larger hearing world.
If your child is turning three, and this is your first year transitioning from early intervention into the public school system, this article can help guide you on your way.
If you are having problems writing an IEP, advocating with your school district to make sure the IEP is followed in accordance with the law, or getting appropriate listening and spoken language services for your child from the school system I can help!
SOCIAL: Building inclusive communities, social skills development, relationships with school staff, and more!
Before the school year even starts, here are some tips on how to create an inclusive classroom community. Equip your child with age-appropriate social skills to allow him to make new friends and participate in group activities. Arm your child with strategies to resist teasing and bullying, and build good self-esteem.
Parents need to set off on the right foot, too, but building strong relationships with their children’s teachers and therapists. In my opinion, it is best to begin this relationship before the school year even starts by contacting all of the faculty, staff, and related professionals who will be working with your child prior to the first day of school. This introduction — before the rush of grading and testing and school year busy-ness begins — is a great way to help the school get to know your child as a child, not just a set of ears. Set up a regular system for home-school communication so you can stay on top of your child’s work in school. If you don’t know what your child is learning and how well she is doing, make a change now! Work with your child’s teacher(s) to establish a system of communication that doesn’t add too much to their day but allows you to stay in the loop, whether it’s texting, a written communication notebook that goes back and forth from home to school daily, a weekly email, monthly phone call, class website, etc. Make yourself available to help in the classroom as much as possible so you can stay in tune with what is going on at school. Remember that many schools have little or no experience working with today’s generation of students with hearing loss. They may have had one or two students with hearing loss in the days of poor amplification options and manual communication, but that does not mean that they have realistic expectations for today’s listening, talking deaf children. Build a bridge of communication with the school to help them see your child’s strengths and continue to push your child to achieve his full potential.
A presentation at the beginning of the year is a great way to help teachers, staff, and students understand hearing loss. We also offer a line of books that feature developmentally-appropriate stories about children with hearing loss, the only one of their kind written by a Auditory Verbal Therapist (Elizabeth) and illustrated by a cochlear implant user (Rachel). All proceeds to go charities that support people who are deaf or hard of hearing! I am also available to help prepare and present inservices on hearing loss to school staff and classmates.