Creche + Preschool
In Ireland, the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) free pre-school year has opened early-years education to all children nationwide since 2010. Deaf children are entitled to their ECCE year, just like other children.
For deaf children with hearing devices, preschool teaches spoken words and language structures for future learning.
Four Communication Options
This chart shows the four communication options for deaf children.
With hearing-devices and directed verbal interactions from under one year of age, most childrens’ verbal skills will match or exceed their hearing peers when their ECCE year begins. Under-fives need sustained one-on-one spoken language interactions, however.
Teaching approach will vary, based on a child’s communication option. Their hearing devices may have an optional FM system, to block background noise and optimise sound perception for hearing within noisy environments.
Childcare staff have a vital role in teaching spoken language-skills if parents are at work, and in working with deaf children whose spoken language is developing. In fact, nursery staff can teach parents to talk with their own children.
Try A Spoken-Language Preschool
Preschools to teach spoken-language exist in Australia and the US, with hearing siblings providing peer-age language models for children with hearing issues.
Ireland has no preschool to teach deaf children spoken language, but families are accessing remote auditory-verbal (speech) therapy services from overseas via telepractice and Skype technologies.
Children whose families hold dual-nationalities may be learning the family’s spoken language from both countries. Many parents ask how early to teach babies to lip-read, and if lip-reading benefits infant reading ability.
With hearing-aids and sustained, direct learning, babies and preschoolers can get a solid, early-years education.
Knowing children with hearing issues need constant spoken language-learning outside of home – what can we do?
Childcare staff can actively teach spoken language skills and reading skills from age two to five, with childrens’ ability to learn cognitive language and social-emotional skills peaking at this time.
Teamwork Between Home And Creche Or Preschool
Teamwork by parents and staff at creches and/or preschools is the key to meeting a child’s specific needs and maximising their spoken language-learning potential.
Here’s a practical creche/preschool checklist for parents to consider when visiting potential creche or preschool venues for a child with hearing issues.
Based on the child’s hearing, this preschool-based learning may focus on:
(1) early intervention (2) language development (mainly spoken)
1. Early Intervention
Two main goals exist in early intervention:
To teach the child to communicate, and interact (mainly spoken).
For the child to learn to participate fully in family life.
Preschool staff working with deaf children can support this communication development by giving the child one-on-time to consolidate recent learning.
2. Language Development
Severely deaf children don’t automatically absorb language in their daily setting, so their early words need to be taught in a directed way.
Most children learn verbally (maybe lip-reading), with very few using signs. Their parent/s will advise staff how best to communicate with their child.
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.
Children are known to learn about reading and writing from birth, after all.
Spoken language-learning reources
Advice for including deaf children in preschool
Childcare and preschool staff may notice a child’s hearing issues first, particularly when a child is in creche full-time.
Read these possible signs of a child being deaf, and advise the parents immediately to avoid delaying a hearing test.
Families and childcare staff may like to read this communication options chart with the four main modes described.
With routine newborn hearing tests, babies are getting hearing-aids and cochlear implants from an earlier age.
These ten commandments for children with hearing issues explain why infants with hearing issues need the earliest intervention.
Deafness is different in the digital hearing-age, and families have more options than in past years.
Newborn Hearing Tests And Technology-Driven Changes
Baby books and flash cards are central to infants’ early language teaching while digital photos can be used to teach new words and concepts.
As toddlers learn, childcare staff can use early years technology to build childrens’ literacy skills with IBM’s KidSmart Young Explorer computer and software worth exploring for a premises.