Ireland’s government offers a free preschool year to all infants aged over three, regardless of additional needs they have. The Early Child Care & Education (ECCE) initiative, which is open to all preschools in Ireland, is profiled on Sound Advice.
For children with deafness, creche and preschool is a pivotal stage in their spoken language development, with the foundations for future learning laid from birth to age three.
Creche And Preschool For Spoken Language
Deaf children are entitled to the ECCE year, just like other children. For deaf children, preschool teaches early spoken language for future learning. Childcare staff have a vital role in teaching spoken language-skills and literacy if parents are at work, and need training to work with deaf children who use spoken or (a minority) signed language.
Knowing that children with hearing issues need constant spoken language-learning potential, especially outside the home – what can we do? One solution is to emphasise linguistic skills at the age of two to five, with childrens’ ability to learn cognitive language and social-emotional skills peaking at this time.
Four Communication Options
Check this chart with the four communication options for children. With hearing-devices and directed verbal interactions from under one year of age, most deaf childrens’ verbal skills will be similar to their hearing peers. Again, teaching approach will vary, based on a child’s communication option.
Teamwork by parents and staff at creches or preschools is the key to meeting a child’s specific needs and maximising their learning potential. Depending on the child’s deafness, this learning may centre on (1) early intervention and (2) language development.
At its simplest, early intervention has two main goals:
- To teach the child to communicate, and to interact socially
- For the child to learn how to participate fully in family life
Preschool staff working with deaf children can support language acquisition by giving the child one-on-time to consolidate learning. Advice is available from the Visiting Teacher Service or HSE Early Intervention team.
Here are some links to this effect:
- Communication Options chart (for reference only)
- Ten Commandments For Kids With Hearing Issues
- Deafness Is Different In The Digital Hearing-Age
- Educational Supports for Deaf Children in Ireland
- Parent Question: How Early To Teach Lip-reading
- Does Lip-Reading Benefit Infant Reading Ability?
- Communication Development: Linking Items To Words
- Visual Learning In The Preschool & Primary Years (pdf file)
Severely deaf children don’t automatically absorb language in their daily environment, so their early words need to be taught through repetition, visual means & cues. Some children rely on lipreading and hearing, with a minority using signs.
- Being Born Deaf Is No Barrier – One Mom’s View
- Early Language Teaching At Home
- Baby Books & Flash Cards For Language Teaching
- Digital Photos For New Words & Concepts
- IBM’s KidSmart PC Supports Language Learning
- One Language May Be Best For Kids With Implants
- After A Cochlear Implant – The Real Work Begins
- Words To Explain Hearing Issues To Other People
Reading is an essential skill for the children to develop as a visual way of accessing information. Here is some advice on reading with deaf children.
Above all – enjoy the learning process!
- The Early Childhood Care & Education Scheme explained
- Hearing Kids Gain In Preschool’s Spoken Language Inclusion
- ISL and Lamh – Key Differences
- Check Sound Advice’s Facebook page for more insights