• Nancy Koziol

Strategies for Success: School for Children with Hearing Aids

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

Whether your child is starting school having worn hearing aids since birth or new to hearing aids, there are ways to ensure success for your child. Just remember: it takes a village!

Think of School Success for the Student with Hearing Aids as a Three-Legged Stool

Success in school for the child with hearing aids involves three major players: the school, the parent and the child. By working together, a child is far more likely to succeed.

The School

School officials must recognize that children with hearing aids have unique needs when it comes to school. All professionals working with the child should view themselves as a team, working together to make sure the child’s needs are being met. For example, there should be administrative support for not only the child but the teachers, speech and language pathologist and other ancillary staff that includes professional development and collaborative planning time.

Ongoing dialogue about the environment is vital to school success. Schools new to servicing students with hearing aids should not assume that a hearing aid means the child can hear the same as hearing students. Students with hearing aids will likely not hear at 100% and have difficulty with noise management. Students will mishear, especially in classroom settings. A webinar for staff and parents included this example: A teacher said that indigenous people “were dying because of drought and famine.” A student with hearing aids asked, “Why were they dying if they had fish?” This type of mishearing is common (drought and famine, trout and salmon) in students wearing hearing aids. Staff trained in this is likely to look for signs of confusion on the face of a child with hearing loss and can clarify without singling out.

The student should be involved in the conversation and in testing and providing feedback on additional technology, like FM amplification devices.

The Parents

Helping a child with hearing aids succeed in school includes a balance between being the child’s advocate and encouraging independence. Parents must stay on top of appointments: IEP and Section 504 plan meetings, parent-teacher conferences, doctor’s and audiologist appointments. They should regularly check in with their child to make sure that the child has adequate batteries and that the hearing aid is comfortable. Regular hearing checks with the hearing aids in are important: the child cannot tell if they are hearing everything.

Parents must make sure that students are in attendance as much as possible to avoid gaps in learning. Students should be on time each day and each class with appropriate materials.

On the other hand, parents must encourage independence. As mentioned previously, expect more and interfere less and encourage your child’s social life[1] .

The Student

The child with hearing loss should have the same age-appropriate interactions with adults and other students as their hearing peers. They should be willing to ask for help, to advocate for themselves when it’s too noisy, and have a voice in all meetings. The child knows best about how they feel and—believe it or not—that’s one of the most important parts of success in school. The child must feel comfortable.

Check in with the student regularly to monitor how they are doing. While it can be difficult to change teachers, your child should have a relationship with teachers where they feel comfortable talking to them. This starts before the school year with a quick meeting. The child can even just send a quick note to the teacher introducing themselves and sharing a bit about their hearing loss if they are comfortable.

Students should know what their accommodations are and be ready to advocate for themselves. This is especially helpful for substitute teachers and field trips.

Back-To-School Checklist for Students with Hearing Aids

Set up everyone for success but implementing some back-to-school routines.

Walk your child’s schedule before school starts. This is especially important for students who will be changing classes for the first time and guarantees that the child will not be late for class.

Have a plan for missed days. Teachers, parents and students should coordinate to have a plan for when school is missed due to illness.

Have a plan for unusual days. Pep rallies, performances and assemblies can be tricky. Having a plan in place cuts down on anxiety and can lead to more enjoyment.

Have a plan for substitutes. Substitute teachers should be aware that they are working in a room with a child with hearing aids and the school should support this in the most unobtrusive way possible. Having the sub meet with another teacher first thing in the morning to review technology and even meet the student is helpful.

Students with hearing aids are successful in school when everyone works together to provide a proper environment and contingencies.

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