By Tina Turbin, multi-award-winning children’s author
Award-winning children’s author of the Danny the Dragon series, Tina Turbin, discusses the importance of parents getting involved in their deaf child’s education and offers a variety of ideas and tips for doing so, such as getting to know teachers, playing language-stimulating games, and building social skills through extracurricular activities.
In my work as a children’s author and literacy advocate, I’m often asked by parents for tips on how to enhance their children’s education, and I’m always happy to offer advice. Since I became highly interested in the cause for deaf literacy, after a delightful and memorable visit to a school for deaf children while I was on my East Coast book tour for my illustrated kids title, Danny the Dragon Meets Jimmy, I’ve discovered that helping children, hearing as well as deaf, is incredibly valuable to their development and not as challenging as parents may at first think. If you’ve sent your hard of hearing child off to school and are looking to enhance his or her learning, there are plenty of things you can do.
First of all, make sure that your child’s educational needs are being met as effectively as possible with the school you’ve chosen. There are a variety of education options available to deaf and hard of hearing children out there, and just because one option works well for one deaf child doesn’t mean it best suits your own child’s needs. Among the many schooling options available are residential schools for the deaf, mainstreaming or partial mainstreaming in regular schools, special programs for preschool-aged children, self-contained deaf education classrooms in regular schools, and hiring a specially-trained tutor to work with your child at home. Examples of some of the problems your child may encounter are teachers without adequate credentials—a Masters in deaf education, isolation from peers, or inadequate resources such as interpreters or note takers.
Once you’ve established that your child is in the right learning environment, it’s time to get involved. Get to know your child’s teachers and administrators by meeting with them in person, volunteer in the classroom or on field trips, and get involved in extracurricular activities. The more up-to-date you are on what’s going on with your child’s classes, the more alert you’ll be when he or she needs help and the more your child will feel he or she can come to you with difficulties. You can also communicate to teachers any special needs your child may have or concerns of yours. Stay abreast of what your child is learning in class, and take special trips with him or her to the library or museum to learn more about these subjects. You should also connect up with other parents by attending parent-teacher conferences and other related activities such as support teams.
Now that you’ve become proactive in your child’s school, what do you do at home? There are a number of activities for you to do with your child that can help stimulate his language development and other skills. According to Walden University, “Children with more involved parents who attempt to learn a language available to their child, such as ASL, generally develop language skills quicker than their peers with less involved families.” Play board games, do puzzles, read books, play hangman, cultivate a garden, or conduct fun science experiments. During these activities, help your child develop language skills by asking lots of questions, such as his or her opinions of characters in books or why certain natural phenomena occur, or taking turns making up stories about things.
Finally, don’t forget the importance of developing social skills as part of your child’s educational experience. Make sure your child is getting lots of playtime with hearing as well as deaf children and is interacting with adults too. Teach your child manners and set a good example of being polite yourself. Keep an eye on your child, especially at first, when he or she plays with friends to make sure there’s no bullying, teasing, or other unacceptable behavior, by others toward your child or even by your child. Find some sports or artistic activities that your child is particularly interested in and let him or her participate in these with peers.
Deaf children are just like any other children; with your support and involvement they’ll be sure to thrive. The common denominator in enhancing a child’s education seems to be taking an active role as a parent. With some imagination, you’ll be able to think up all sorts of ways to help your child learn and grow.
Tina Turbin is a multi-award-winning children’s author, writer, researcher, humanitarian and mother. Having written her first children's story at age 16, she has enjoyed many years of working with and helping children and their families. Her Danny the Dragon children’s series fulfills a passion of hers to delight and entertain through her enchanting characters.
Her style of writing conveys to the young and young at heart. Tina resides in both her East and West Coast studios, always writing more children's books to entertain the world.