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Games for deaf and hearing children

Posted May 10 2011 12:54pm

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By Tina Turbin, multi-award-winning children’s author

As a children’s author and literacy advocate, I stress the importance of reading to both deaf and hearing children. That’s why I made my Danny the Dragon children’s series available to both hearing and deaf children with my Danny the Dragon DVD and iPad app, which includes a signed reading of the first book of the series.

In addition to reading, I also strongly believe in the importance of play and games, which all children need to participate in as a crucial part of growing up.

For deaf children, learning how to interact with the hearing world can be a challenge, making games a particularly important activity for them. You’ll find that games with hearing children will get your deaf child comfortable with their hearing peers and vice-versa and will help equip your child with vital skills and experience.

According to Michigan State University , children gain many benefits from playing, including problem-solving skills, logic and reasoning abilities, learning about the environment, communication skills, and how to interact with others. For deaf children, for whom acquiring these skills and experiences can be a challenge, games are particularly important, especially games played with hearing children.

Group games and sports are an important part of playing, as these require children to interact with other kids. As your deaf child socialises with hearing children, they’ll make friends and acquire communication skills necessary for interacting with each other.

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IrishDeafKids.com recommends sports and games with clearly laid-out rules, such as volleyball, tennis, bowling, and basketball. Your deaf child can also play some classic board games such as Operation, Battleship, Twister, and Junior Scrabble. Tabletop games such as table tennis, air hockey, and foosball are ideal. Other common children’s games include hide-and-go-seek, tag, rock-paper-scissors, hangman, and card games.

With a mixed group of deaf and hearing kids, you may need to alter some games to accommodate deaf children. For example, for musical chairs you can flash the lights on and off when the music stops and for charades, you can have a notepad available for communicating children’s guesses.

I recommend playing with your child at home yourself, teaching him how to play various children’s games and sports, until he or she has a clear understanding of the rules and is comfortable and confident with playing. It is wise to watch your child closely as he or she begins to play with hearing children, or even to join in the games yourself until things smooth out.

Games have some other advantages for you and your deaf child. As children play, you can find out what sets them apart and what talents and interests they have. Discovering what makes your child special is an important part of parenting, so you can foster his or her gifts in the direction of a bright future.

It’s not unusual to feel worried or daunted by the challenges of raising a deaf child. Rest assured that although the road may be bumpy at first, your child will be a happy one with a successful future to look forward to. Playing games and sports with other children, especially their hearing peers, will help measurably in accomplishing this.

Tina Turbin

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.

Read Tina's first DeafBlog column here.

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