By Dana Selznick, Teacher of the Deaf and HOH
With the back-to-school season underway, I want to extend a warm helping hand to all of you.
This time of year is filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation for both you and your children. For parents with children who have hearing loss, this period can also come with certain questions and concerns. I am here to offer guidance and support as you navigate this important next step in your child's educational journey.
Whether you're a parent of a child entering school for the first time or a back-to-school veteran, your child with hearing loss has an array of listening, social-emotional and academic needs you'll want to be aware of to help make the school year a success. Drawing from insights and recommendations by CHC's multidisciplinary team of pediatric experts, here's a back-to-school checklist for parents of students with hearing loss.
1) Understanding the Back-to-School Jitters
We all remember the first day of school—the butterflies in the stomach, the new faces, and the anticipation of what lies ahead. But for children with hearing loss, these feelings can be heightened due to the additional considerations they face.
I encourage parents to initiate a relaxed conversation with their child about their feelings and expectations. Let them know that it's okay to feel nervous and that many of their peers might be having nervous feelings as well. Reassure them that you’ll be thinking about them and will be excited to hear all about their day when they get home.
Encourage your child to close their eyes and think about a successful day at school. Ask them to imagine themselves participating in class activities, making friends, and joining in on enjoyable activities. This positive visualization can help alleviate anxiety and boost their confidence.
Take a look at Back-to-School Jitters, a blog post from my colleague and Mental Health Counselor Janick Hickman with more ways you can support your child this school year.
2) Managing Your Child's Hearing Equipment
It's so important that your child has maximum access to sound in the classroom—all day and every day. So be sure you give your child's hearing equipment the attention it needs to stay functioning at peak performance.
Hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM systems should be listened to on a daily basis. Devices need new and/or fully charged batteries each morning with plenty of extra batteries always on hand.
For a complete checklist of hearing tech recommendations, read Audiology Tips for Parents of Children with Hearing Loss in School by Pediatric Audiologist Anita Stein-Meyers.
3) Understanding the Impact of Noise in the Classroom
When we imagine our children sitting in their new classroom on the first day of school, it’s easy to imagine them at their desk beside bright-colored, welcome, wall decorations, spaces to be filled up with art work and a cozy rug where morning meetings will take place. What is harder to imagine is the noise that will echo off those walls. While classroom noise is simply the sound of children engaged in learning, it can seriously hinder your child's ability to hear and learn.
In my blog post Noisy Classrooms Hinder Learning you’ll get a sense of the noise your child could be experiencing every day in the classroom and learn strategies you can suggest to their teacher for a quieter classroom.
4) The Power of Collaboration
As parents, you are your child's greatest advocates. Building a partnership with your child’s new teachers based on transparency and shared goals can lead to the implementation of accommodations and technologies that support your child's unique needs. Remember that your involvement not only empowers your child but also contributes to the overall success of their academic journey.
Take a look at CHC’s resources for ways to introduce your child’s hearing loss and Tips for Teachers handouts that you can share.
5) Empowering Your Child and Yourself
Starting a new school year can be daunting, but it also presents a chance for growth and empowerment. My blog post Be the MVP of Your Child’s New School Year is an important reminder that you, the parent, are your child’s #1 teacher. This post shares powerful tools to help you build upon your child’s learning while they are home before and after school.
I always recommend working with your child to set goals for the new school year. Reflect back on last year to help them work through what they think went well and what they feel they could use help with this year. With each new school year, encourage your child to reach a little bit further and expand their goals as they enter higher grades.
6) Encouraging Pride
With the start of a new school year, your child will need to introduce or reintroduce their hearing loss, not only to teachers but peers as well. CHC's education services help prepare students to freely discuss their hearing loss and equipment with teachers and classmates—just as Anabella does with confidence and enthusiasm in Anabella, Age 8, On the School Year Ahead.
The more information children have at their finger tips, the more they feel confident answering questions about their hearing loss and hearing technology. Show them that embracing their uniqueness empowers them to shine brighter.
It is never too early to empower your child. In Empowerment Though the Sharing of Hearing Loss Experiences with Classmates, my colleague Katie Buda describes the benefits of helping your child prepare for the upcoming school year. She recommends creating social stories and personal books they can share with their classmates and offers easy-to-use templates to get the process started.
As you embark on this new school year with your child, remember that you are not alone in this journey. Let's work together to turn the start of the school year into a time of excitement, growth, and achievement for your child with hearing loss.