Updated: February 11, 2017
Whether your child is a brand new hearing aid user or has been wearing them for years, the beginning of a new school year will always come with some adjustments. There will be new staff, new students, new rooms, and new expectations for your child.
In additional to the typical school supply checklist of pencils, books, and notebooks, there are 5 things that I recommend every student with hearing loss and their parents do to prepare for the new school-year.
1. Make the teacher, teacher aide, and other staff aware
It is important for all of your child’s teachers to know that he/she has a hearing loss and wears hearing aids. The teacher’s aide (if there is one) and school nurse should also be made aware.
You may be able to train the support staff in some simple troubleshooting tips in case something happens to the hearing aids during the school day. If your child is very young or new to wearing hearing aids, the teacher and staff can also help monitor use of the hearing aids. Open communication between the parent and teacher is important.
2. Inform the child’s coaches
A school gym can be a really noisy environment, and a difficult place for a child with hearing loss. It is important to inform your child’s P.E. coach and sports coaches of your child’s hearing loss and hearing aids.
Make sure they understand that in a noisy gym or large outdoor area, your child may have a difficult time hearing them. This will ensure that the coach knows the child is not just ignoring them or being disrespectful.
3. Prepare your child for questions and/or bullying
Kids are going to ask questions about your child’s hearing aids. In most cases, it will just be simple child curiosity, especially if your child is changing schools or just got hearing aids for the first time.
It is important to prepare your child for these questions. Role play the situation with them and give them a script so they know how to respond when the questions do come.
In some cases, bullying and teasing may occur. It is helpful to prepare your child for these negative confrontations as well and give them an idea of how to handle them.
4. Request accommodations for your child if needed
Don’t assume that your child’s teachers and support staff will know how to accommodate your child just because they are aware of the hearing loss. If further accommodations are needed, request them.
Ask if the school provides assistive listening devices or closed captioning on videos. You will need to be an advocate for your child’s needs. In most cases, once the staff is aware of these needs they will be willing to accommodate.
5. Put together a hearing aid care kit
Assemble a little kit with any hearing aid supplies that might be needed during the day. This may include batteries, a battery tester, cleaning brush or wax tools, and sport loop or sweat bands for extracurricular activities or gym class.
If your child is very young, give it to their teacher. If your child is capable of using these supplies on their own, have them keep it in their backpack, locker, or desk.
6. Educate the teacher about your child’s technology
As much as we like to think teachers know everything, they just don’t. Especially when it comes to hearing technology.
If needed, meet with the school staff prior to the school year, or try to set up a quick meeting with the teacher to show them how your child’s hearing aids or cochlear implants work.
If a remote microphone is needed, also discuss how and when to use them.
It will likely be a daily check for the teaching staff to make sure they can recognize any problems with the devices.
Try to relax
The start of a new school year can come with some anxiety for both students and parents. For a child with hearing loss, the uncertainties can be even greater. You can help make the transition smoother by being prepared and preparing those who will interact with your child at school.
Note: As a follow up, this article by Hearing Like Me provides additional tips that is worth a read