A child’s age, his or her learning style and the severity of hearing loss are all important factors in choosing the best schools for hard of hearing children. The type of program is another important consideration. Among the choices are those that stress oral communications skills, those that use sign language almost exclusively and those that use a combination of the two. Hard of hearing children can attend specialized school programs specifically designed for their needs, or they might take part in a traditional school classroom.
Children are often diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. When considering the best school or program for these children, it is important to consider whether any significant language delays or other developmental delays have occurred. If that is the case, supplemental tutoring might also be required.
If a specialized program is the route you choose, the first step is to research — online or otherwise — what kinds of programs are available. Make a list of programs that look promising and begin contacting those schools for information. Also remember there might be quality programs where you are currently living. Whether you choose a public or a private program for hard of hearing children, it is best to contact the school by telephone and plan a visit to the school. Ideally, you should plan a visit during a time when you will be able to meet with teachers and administrators as well as watch a classroom in action.
If possible, also talk with other parents who have children in the program, to gauge whether they are pleased with it. Find out if they are welcome to visit the classroom and how involved they are in the school. Another important indicator is whether the parents believe the administrators and teachers are concerned about their child’s progress. Although some dissatisfaction is to be expected, it is usually a good sign if parents are active participants in the program and the school is responsive to the parents’ questions and concerns.
Once inside a classroom for hard of hearing children, you can evaluate several other areas that will indicate if the program is a good fit for your child. First, notice if the children appear engaged in what they are doing and learning. The teacher should allow plenty of opportunities for all children to interact with one another and participate. Additionally, the teacher should making sure to monitor whether any students are struggling and, if so, the teacher should make adjustments to make sure those children stay caught up.
Be sure to ask about the credentials of the teachers in the program. Ideally, the teacher has experience in working with hard of hearing children. Also make sure the teachers meet any certification requirements for teaching in the classroom.
The appearance of the classroom is another good indicator. Take note of how much care is taken in making sure the room is pleasantly decorated and well lighted. Students should also have access to good learning materials and technology within the classroom.
Ideally, investigate several programs, and then compare the pluses and minuses for each. Do not assume you could not afford a private program for hard of hearing children. In some cases, a public school system might be required to pay for your child to attend a specialized program if they do not have one that adequately meets your child’s needs. Be sure to ask what other forms of tuition assistance might also be available.