Most children treat Labor Day weekend like a long walk to the gallows: the final sunny weekend before a whole new school year begins. Your child, however, is chomping at the bit to get back to school, and you’re the one having reservations. You’re worried that his hearing condition could cause problems in the classroom—and for every difficulty you can think of, you’re sure there are ten more you haven’t considered.
How Can I Prepare My Child for the New School Year?
There are many things parents of children with hearing aids can do to make going back to school much easier. First, you may want to stock up on a few items that can save a hectic day in class, including:
- Batteries. Make sure your child has extra hearing aid batteries on hand (in his desk, locker, or backpack) in case his device stops working. For young children, you may want to give the batteries to their teachers for safekeeping.
- Adhesive or clips. Your child’s hearing aid may shift or fall out during the day, depending on what activities your child is involved in and the type of hearing device used. A little thinking ahead can prevent a hearing aid from falling to the floor or becoming trampled underfoot at recess or during gym class. Fabric tape or toupee tape can keep hearing aids in place during running and tumbling, while smaller children may wear a sports headband across the top of their ears to hold their devices in place. You may want to research your device to see if there are additional accessories, such as body clips and mic locks for sporting activities.
- Hard-shell storage kit. Your child should have a hard, labeled case that fits the device and all hearing supplies, including a small “cheat sheet” with basic information about the hearing aid. Don’t forget a cleaning kit so that that your child can wipe down the device and remove moisture after strenuous activity.
- Fabric softener sheets. Some hearing aids have a tendency to build up static electricity, especially if the child regularly walks over carpeted areas or brushes his hair over the plastic casing of the device. An occasional wipe-down with a fabric softener sheet can discharge any electricity and prevent shocks and shorts.
- Small notebook. If you child does not speak sign language or communicate with a classroom aid, make sure he or she has a dedicated notebook or tablet to write or type notes to the teacher and other students.
Should I Meet With the Staff?
Hearing aids can greatly improve your child’s education; however, not all faculty members know the best way to communicate with hearing-impaired children. To make sure your child will get the full benefit of being in a classroom environment, you should talk to a few people before school starts, including:
- Administrators. The school principal and other office staff should be aware of your child’s condition and have someone on hand who knows how to troubleshoot problems with your child’s assistive devices. The earlier you speak with administrators, the better—the staff may be able to offer additional equipment (such as special audio cables for computer use, Loop systems, or CART software) or in-classroom aides if they have enough notice.
- Teachers. Your child’s teachers should know about your child’s specific hearing needs. If your child has one primary teacher, you should meet with him or her to discuss best practices when communicating with your child. If your child is too young to change the batteries in his device, the teacher should know how to change the batteries and troubleshoot sudden hearing aid problems.
- Para-educators. Sometimes called a classroom aide, a para-educator is a one-on-one assistant for your child, and goes with your child to each class to facilitate learning. Some PEs can perform interpreter services if your child prefers to speak sign language. Since your child and the PE will work closely together, you should meet with him or her to discuss best methods of communication, signs of frustration, and other potential dangers.
As a final precaution, parents should make sure that their child’s hearing aid is working properly before school begins. If you think your child’s hearing needs have changed or you just want to make sure the device is delivering the best possible sound, call us at 888-262-2613 to schedule a hearing test today!