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Options of family education for a hearing-impaired child

Early education of a hearing-impaired child is of great importance. The Pre-school period is critical, we can even say, a decisive time in a child's life. During this period main child’s habits and skills are built, his or her personality is formed, which means the foundation of the whole life is created. A lot of philosophers and scientists spoke about the huge importance of early education. The significance of early education was proved by the studies of academic psychologists who demonstrated that targeted, specialized education starting from the first days of a child's life is of great importance for the development of a person.

During pre-school childhood, parents can choose whether to enroll a hearing-impaired child into a special education institution or educate their child at home. In case you prefer this last option, the success of such education will fully depend on the parent’s compliance with the specialists’ recommendations. Guided by them, parents can conduct different activities to provide pedagogical support to contribute to the general development of children and compensate for the effects of the child's hearing loss.

Three important fundamental principles of the pre-school education system for children with hearing loss that parents should know were determined:

First. Mental developmental abilities of a healthy deaf child are equal to those of a child with normal hearing. Love to a child along with high standards and quality education are the conditions that help fulfill a child's potential. Parents' commitment to succeed, ability to build up confidence in a child, hard and persevering work to teach a child to read are the essential requirements that help parents make their child happy and help him or her not to notice this physical imperfection or at least not to feel it as a burden.

Second. General questions related to a child's education, his or her emotional education, and behavioral development are not just less important, than special questions related to speech and thinking development, but are a basis of special education. Your child is first of all just a child, and only after that he or she is hearing-impaired. His or her moral character and personality formation are the most important things that should determine every item of special education. Furthermore, the behavioral development of a child with hearing loss should be exactly the same as behavioral education of any same-aged peer.

Third. To protect a child from muteness, and teach him or her to communicate with others, we should use all the possible means and tools. One of such effective and accessible (for parents) means of teaching deaf children is sign language.

Sign language (dactyl form) is a form of verbal speech. Using sign language means understanding the meaning of the words, master the grammatical arrangement of the language which helps to learn the language both in written and verbal forms.

The role of the family in education of a hearing-impaired child is even more important than in education of a child with normal development. It is important to remember that strictly following the routines – is the first condition of correct education. Each family has specific rules of behavior, and following them contributes to harmony, friendship and serenity, and that is the first and, perhaps, the main condition of correct education. Considering special needs of a hearing-impaired child, it is necessary to come to an agreement with all the family members, from elementary school children to grandparents, about certain aspects of education. It is about following the schedule of special education classes and rules of communication with a child (I have already written about it). You should check what skills and abilities a child has mastered by the time when parents start his or her education. In this case, it will become clearer what you should do to facilitate the correct development of your child.

First of all, you need to start with establishing rigid routines. After starting the lessons they will change a bit. Considering the routines set in every family, you should create a daily schedule for your child and make it obligatory to keep it. It is necessary to create the rules following which will help you to complete the educational program starting from household skills. The essential point to remember is that by breaking them even in case of some important circumstances or just by giving in to child’s mood, parents not only lose everything that they achieved but what is even more important they form an incorrect attitude of a child to their expectations. The rules stop being obligatory for him or her. Indeed, if you can break one rule and get away with that, why don't you repeat this 'successful experience' for the second, then for the third time? You should lovingly but firmly demonstrate rigidity towards the imposed requirements; you should make the child follow the example, the behavior pattern, precisely and correctly. Teaching a child to follow established rules (there are relatively few requirements and they are quite simple) in the early stages of his or her education, when a child is still small, will make subsequent education, when there are more rules and they become more complex, easier for the parents.

Too many and too difficult tasks will not just make a child lose a taste for learning, but they can discourage the parents and take away that essential confidence that there is a possibility to solve them. They can be narrowed down to three main objectives that should be achieved whether a child is being educated at home or in a kindergarten: in the first case parents will face the challenges by themselves, and in a second they will help educators and teachers to solve them.

First objective. Spark child’s interest in objects and events in the world around him or her. Teach a child to focus on what is being shown to him/her (start with a half of a minute and increase the time up to two minutes). Teach him o her to imitate. Develop his/her memory. All these things prepare a child for learning and, in particular, for mastering speech.

Second objective. Build child’s positive attitude and habit to verbal communication whether using words in dactylic sign language or shown in a written form. You need to teach them to perceive a word as a request, as an instruction to some action, and as a name of objects of the world around us. These skills are the condition for successful development of speech.

Third objective. Depending on the level of hearing loss, teach a child to read in dactylic coding, which is a foundation of further quick development of child’s vocabulary as a requirement for language acquisition.

Also, some of the tasks that parents have when opting for home education are familiarization of a child and strengthening of cultural and hygienic skills and self-care skills, teaching regular habits, discipline, neatness, careful attitude towards toys, books, and fostering striving for purposeful activity and reasonable work.

An indispensable condition is to create an oral-aural environment in the family which means constant verbal communication of all the close people with a child (there will be a separate post about it). The use of hearing aids is also a key success factor when you educate a kid with hearing loss.

Pedagogical support of deaf or hearing-impaired children who receive family education consists in working on speech development. It is intended to build language skills, assist with mastering the speech process and practical learning of language standards as well as to foster vocabulary build-up, clarification of words, and making phrases. This work is based on different developmental activities.

In everyday life, parents of deaf and hearing-impaired children strive to get to understand their own child, be aware of his/her concerns and feelings, and learn to be understandable for him or her. Verbal communication with hearing children is beneficial for the overall condition and development of a child; it encourages a motivated use of different speech units and development of his or her verbal communication.

At the same time, a family should conduct regular lessons (without overwhelming a child) to develop his or her verbal and written communication. Formed in a timely manner pre-requisites for successful education related to the development of visual perception, attention, observation skills and imitation are of great importance. This way, in order to improve visual perception, you can use colorful toys, multicolored sticks, balls, mosaics, and colored pictures by contemplating which a child learns to classify similar objects, identical and different colors, and compare them. Articulatory skills in children are formed and reinforced based on developing auditory and sound perception and phonetic rhythm. Pre-school children should be taught to use their vocal box fluently; educators demonstrate visible articulatory movements, and when the exact pronunciation of sounds is achieved, it helps the automatic performance of the skills and abilities that were built for corresponding syllables, words and phrases. All the lessons are conducted in a play format, which helps to keep children interested and involved. Frequent repetition of the same articulations contributes to clear enunciation and makes it easier. At the same time, children learn to control their pronunciation with the help of sight and touch.

Development of the articulatory area of speech is closely associated with development of auditory perception in deaf and hearing-impaired pre-school children. It consists in familiarizing them with the sounds of toys (flute, button accordion, tambourine, jingle bell, ratchet, kid's balalaika, etc.); development of their ability to distinguish and recognize familiar spoken material when hearing it, etc. This material is demonstrated when a child uses hearing aids and without them, and the distance between the source of sound and child should be increased gradually. Speech materials are normally provided to hearing-impaired children with a normal tone of voice or whispering. Without a doubt, the results of this work and speed of learning and mastering the required materials by deaf and hearing-impaired pre-school children is different and depends on the state of their hearing and length of hearing training.

When implementing family education to pre-school children with hearing impairment, great attention should be paid to teaching them to read. While doing that, educators use a lot of flashcards with words and phrases typed in capital letters. Together with the children parents make and read homemade books, describing amusing events of a child's life.

Remember that a lot of things depend on you, dear parents, on your striving and effort. Read next post-continuance.