Listen, talk and read to succeed

by Judy Odendahl, MAEd, LSLS Cert. AVEd

November is National Family Literacy Month. Studies show that shared reading with a parent and child is one of the most important activities for a child with hearing loss – and all children – when it comes to learning to listen, talk and read to succeed.

Literacy learning starts at home and long before a child goes to school. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading aloud to children from birth. Current hearing technology provides children who are deaf or hard of hearing with the opportunity to access the benefits of shared reading commensurate to their peers with hearing. As professionals, it is important to educate parents about the benefits of shared book reading and provide guidance for planning and implementing in order to maximize the potential for stimulating spoken language and literacy success.

Guide parents to:

  • Read at least 20 minutes each day
  • Relax and have fun when sharing books
  • Make sure hearing technology is on and working properly
  • Find a quiet place and keep the child close -turn off the T.V., music, etc.
  • Choose developmentally appropriate books
  • Preview and develop listening and language goals from books based on the child’s interest and needs
  • Plan book/language routines based on goals to enable repetition for easier learning
  • Plan which Listening and Spoken Language strategies to incorporate as they read
  • Understand that it is not necessary to always read the words as written
  • Talk about the title of the book as they look at the cover
  • Have the child turn the pages
  • Point to pictures as they talk about them
  • Make the book come alive
    • if there is a picture of a butterfly, make the book/butterfly fly up-up-up then dooowwwwnnn
    • Actually knock on the picture of the door
  • Pause frequently to let the child take a turn in the book sharing
  • Help/let the child turn the pages as they label the action “Turn the page”
  • Say “the end” when the book is finished
  • Read favorite books over and over

As the child gets older and has more language, encourage parents to:

  • Ask “who, what, when, where, why and how” questions
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Pause to allow the child to fill in a missing word or words
  • Connect the story to the child’s real life
  • Give the child opportunity to make predictions
  • Find out how the child feels about the story: likes/dislikes, sad parts, funny parts, scary parts, etc.
  • Point to the print as they read
  • Point out particular words/letters
  • Act out favorite stories or parts of the book
  • Have the child “read” favorite books to others/stuffed animals or dolls

Active parental participation in home book sharing can enhance spoken language and literacy skills. It is especially important for preparing children with hearing loss to listen, talk, read and succeed.

Judy Odendahl, MAEd, LSLS Cert. AVEd is a parent educator in the Joanne Parrish Knight Family Center at CID, credentialed in Missouri and Illinois. She taught in the field of deaf education for 16 years and then transitioned to providing early intervention services in 2004. She earned an undergraduate degree in deaf education from Fontbonne Univeristy in St. Louis and a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Texas­ — San Antonio. Judy developed the concept and format for the CID book, Super Sensational Science, and has presented at national and international conferences of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention and the Pennsylvania Low Incidence Institute. She participated through the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss to develop curricula, teach and mentor professionals in Vietnam. Most recently, she co-authored CID’s Early Listening at Home curriculum. 

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