Living in New York City, it is hard for me to believe that children are already starting back to school. In NY kids go to school until the end of June and then don’t start up until after Labor Day. That said, we need to get our kids ready for school.
Starting a new school year can be really stressful for everyone. Here are a few things to consider.
Information for the teacher
- Meet with the teacher before the year starts so she knows your child and can get a start in understanding hearing loss. Bring your child to this intro meeting.
- Give your child’s teacher all the information she needs in writing. Don’t expect her to remember what you tell her at the beginning of a school year when things are a little chaotic.
- Many parents find that a short couple of page information piece helps. It could include something like “My name is Josh. I have a severe hearing loss. My favorite things to do are ….. I wear hearing aids (or cochlear implants) to help me hear. With my hearing aids I can hear well if it is quiet but I have trouble hearing when there is background noise so it will help if the room is quiet. I learn best when what you are requesting is clear so please write down assignments etc.” The information piece could also include information about academic skills – reading level etc. Emphasize your child’s strengths but be honest about areas of weakness. Include a photo of your child, and of the technology. Include specific information about how to check the equipment, change batteries etc. This will likely be scary to the teacher so do a demonstration to show that it is easy.
- Provide the teacher with a list of things that she needs to know
- How to check hearing aids (cochlear implants) to be sure that they are working well.
- How to do a listening check and why it is needed
- Reminder about preferential seating and allowing the child to move about the room if the teacher moves about the room
- How to use the remote microphone system. Why is a remote microphone system needed. Suggest that it the teacher give the microphone to another child when students are working in small groups. Discuss how to use a pass around microphone and if there is no pass around microphone tell the teacher he will need to repeat other children’s comments. Refer them to the FM video on youtube to help them understand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ln8NHzVfJkQ
- Make sure they understand your child’s language level so they can teach to him appropriately.
- Remind teachers that assignments should be in writing, not verbally, to be sure that the child understands.
- Decide on a place where you will leave spare batteries in case they are needed and discuss how the FM system will be charged.
- Review everything that is in the IEP/504 plan. Discuss what all those things are listed there and be sure that the teacher understands and appreciates the need for each recommendation. Discuss how each of the items will be carried out.
- Talk to the teacher about the need to check that your child is following what is happening in the classroom. The teacher can’t just ask “do you understand?”. She needs to ask a question that will assure that she know that the child does understand – something specific about what is being discussed.
- Discuss the IEP/504 recommendations with your child so she knows what to expect and the reason for each of the recommendations.
- Make sure the teacher know how to reach you if there are any problems. While I would like to say that parents should not need to be the back up when there is a problem we know that they often are. There may be an itinerant teacher in the school who can be the backup but for most mainstreamed children, they may be the only child with hearing loss in the school building and so the itinerant teacher will likely only be in the building when he is scheduled to work with your child.
- Meet with everyone who is going to work with your child to introduce him and discuss what they need to know about hearing loss.
- Make a follow-up appointment to meet with the teacher a few weeks into school to see how things are going.
- Be sure the school knows that you have high expectations for your child and you expect them to have the same expectations. You expect him to do as well as the rest of the children in the class. That said, you also expect the school to provide whatever assistance your child needs to be sure that she is doing as well as she can do.
- Be optimistic but be vigilant and check on what is happening in school, how your child is doing and what your child needs. Look out for social skills problems. Keep your eyes open and check with your child every day.