Nurturing learners in difficult times
The back-to-school season is underway, and it is definitely not business as usual.
As a parent of a student with hearing loss, you probably have more questions than ever during these difficult times. Depending on where you live, you may be choosing between in-classroom education, remote learning or a blended learning option. Parents of children with hearing loss are particularly concerned about the impact of social distancing and the use of face masks by teachers and classmates. Understandably, you may be anxious as you seek the “right” answers.
In past years, as a Teacher of the Deaf, I could offer input about the best educational setting for a child based on my understanding of each child’s individual needs. But this year we’re living in a period of uncertainty and no educator can make that decision for you. Parents need to make the decision that is best for the safety and comfort level of their family. Once that decision is made, we can help you put in place the support services necessary to ensure success for your child.
Regardless of your choice for school placement, there are many factors to consider to ensure the best learning environment for your child.
For the in-classroom setting
If you choose an in-classroom option, then discuss the following needs with your child’s Teacher of the Deaf and the school team to assist your child within the classroom:
- The use of clear masks (learn more);
- How to safely clean and use an FM system between teachers (learn more);
- Where a child should be seated in a socially distanced classroom;
- How to assist teachers in supporting social situations between children when masks and social distancing are in place;
- Help teachers understand that children are working harder when listening through a mask (learn more);
- Encourage the scheduling of listening breaks throughout the child’s day to offset listening fatigue;
- Apply best practices for educating a child with hearing loss in an educational setting.
For remote learning
If you decide remote learning is the best option for your child, your Teacher of the Deaf and school team can address the following:
- Optimize the auditory set-up to make sure the child has a clear auditory input from the computer to their listening devices (learn more);
- Make sure the school uses a video conferencing program that allows for captions (learn more);
- Educate teachers on the challenges of online learning for a child with hearing loss and solutions such as where the teacher should sit while conducting a lesson or the benefits of using an external microphone (learn more);
- Explore headphones to wear over your child’s devices if your child does not have Bluetooth connections
- Create a listener remote friendly classroom in your home;
- Consider the impact of socialization with peers for your child and set up virtual social activities such as Zoom play dates (learn more).
Partnering with CHC
As CHC’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Specialist, my role is to ensure that each child I work with and advocate for gets the most out of his or her education. This work is a partnership between CHC, the child, parents and teacher – all working together to help a child with hearing loss flourish as a learner.
These are unprecedented times with unprecedented decisions to make. But, remember, whatever choice you make for your child and your family, your child will make educational gains because they have you as their advocate. And remember, CHC is here to support you and the decisions you make along the way.
Best wishes for a successful school year!