Hands up! Managing hearing loss in the classroom

Parents often worry about how their child’s hearing loss may impact on their experience of school, particularly when they first start. However, there is plenty you and your child’s school can do to ensure your child’s educational journey runs smoothly.

Primary school

Starting school can be an exciting yet apprehensive time for parents and children alike. You may be concerned about how your child will cope with hearing loss in a busy classroom both socially and in terms of learning.

Before they start, it is important to communicate your child’s needs to the school. Have a chat with your child’s hearing specialist about the sorts of areas where they may need support, then arrange a meeting with the principal or your child’s teacher to discuss how they can best accommodate your child’s needs. They will also be able to tell you what resources may be available to you. Depending on your child’s needs, they may have access to itinerant support through the Department of Education.

Often it is simple measures, such as placing your child in a classroom with good acoustics, that make the biggest difference to their experience of school and learning. For example, you might like to let your school know about the ListenApp, which they can use to assess the acoustics in their classrooms.

Once your child has started school, make sure you keep in touch with the teacher or principal to see how things are going. Speak to your child regularly about school and encourage them to tell you or the teacher if they are having any problems. If you pick up on any issues, reassure them that most problems can be easily fixed and that the school is there to help. Then meet with school staff to discuss possible solutions.

High school

As with primary school, preparation for the move to high school is key to ensuring a smooth transition. It's a good idea for you and your child to meet with school staff beforehand so you can get to know each other and they can have an opportunity to learn more about your child's needs. This will also help in terms of establishing a support network for your child.

Once your child is settled into high school, they should be becoming more independent and calling on their support networks as they need them. Make sure you encourage them to speak out and seek help if there are any concerns or areas where they feel their school life could be improved. Keep in touch with the school to find out if they have any concerns that your child may be holding back from getting help.

Technology is useful for all students with hearing loss but in a high school setting where students are moving from one classroom to another, it plays a big part in ensuring they get the most out of their school experience, both in and out of the classroom. Listening devices can help with many aspects of school life, from hearing PA announcements to watching TV to playing sport. Classroom technologies including interactive whiteboards easily allow captioning and deliver visual resources to the class making it easier for your child to keep up, engage and interact.

For children with or without hearing loss, communication between the child, parents, school and in some instances health professionals, is crucial to ensuring any issues or potential issues are solved as efficiently and effectively as possible, leaving them to enjoy all the positives of a happy school life and a lifelong love of learning.

If you have any concerns or would like further advice on how to manage hearing loss in the classroom, get in touch with one of our trusted hearing clinicians today.

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