Written by: Brianna Rider, Dana Feiner, Joanna Sichts
It’s already back-to-school time again!! After packing up new notebooks and cleaning supplies, check out the recommendations for a smooth school year from our staff Teachers of the Deaf, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Audiologists!
Find your child’s teacher support staff: This may be any combination of a Teacher of the Deaf (TOD), a Teacher of Record (TOR), and/or a Teacher of Service (TOS). If you are beginning at a new school, or are aware of a staffing change that may have taken place, reach out to your child’s school and get your new teachers’ contact information. Then, save it!! This teacher will be one of your first points of contact about any school, hearing, or device struggles. Get familiar with them!
Meet with your teacher: This can be by scheduling an in-service with a TOD, TOR, or TOS, or by contacting your primary classroom teacher for a meet and greet. For younger kids, explain your child’s hearing loss to the teacher and describe classroom strategies that should be in place for your child to have the best access. Keep your child in the room and include them in this conversation! As your child gets older, encourage them to be the leaders during this discussion and to advocate for their needs. Sometimes this can be an intimidating conversation to have face-to-face–in which case, guiding your child to first send an email to their teachers may be a good way to dip their toes in and begin the conversation.
Practice device troubleshooting and listening checks: Your child probably tells you when there is an issue with their device. Will they know to tell their teacher? If so, will the teacher have any idea of where to start troubleshooting? For younger children, help educate their teacher(s) about their device and troubleshooting tips you’d recommend. For older children, practice troubleshooting with them and teach them the chain of command of who to contact if an issue occurs. Practice the Ling-10 sounds with your child and help explain to the teacher(s) the importance of checking those sounds. (Psst: do you have trouble remembering the sounds off the top of your head? We can provide written copies of the Ling-10 sounds to parents and teachers! If you are interested in one, e-mail audiology@hearindiana.
Prepare to exchange information with other providers: Many offices require updated Exchange of Information or Release and Exchange of Information forms to be completed annually. At the beginning of the year, prepare to complete this form to allow your providers to discuss your child together! This may be required by their teacher, audiologist, or SLP. While doing this, you will want to share an updated hearing test with your team to be sure everyone has the most recent information about your child’s hearing loss.
Organize materials for after-school activities: Will your student need extra batteries to get them through school, practice, and then a carnival? Find a place in their backpack, locker, or classroom to store extras! Do your child’s coaches know about their hearing loss? Do they have a remote microphone or accommodations in place to communicate with your child while they’re on the field? Just as important: will your child remind them to use those accommodations or tell someone if they need more batteries? Encourage an open conversation between you, your child, and a coach or club leader to discuss what the student needs to be successful. As the children get older, encourage them to lead this conversation and advocate for their own needs.
Find a home for your school’s FM/DM system: Ensure there is a designated space for the system to charge overnight. An ideal location is away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of school, but still close to your child’s classes. Who is responsible for going and plugging it in each night?
Ask any questions! Everyone on the team has the same goal: for your student to have a successful school year. What can the team do to facilitate that? Let them know!