This is the first time Drew's preschool has had a hearing impaired child in their classroom. They have been wonderful about learning about hearing loss, Drew's cochlear implants and setting up their classroom as a listening environment. Here are some things we have found helpful when working with a mainstream preschool:
- In-service Day: Schedule a meeting with the Preschool Director and Teachers to review information on hearing loss and hearing aids/cochlear implants. We had our teacher through Early Intervention meet with Drew's teachers to discuss his hearing loss, how his cochlear implants work and things that can be done in the classroom to facilitate an excellent listening environment. We also discussed ways they can help with Drew's learning, like providing lesson plans for the month ahead and sending home all musical lessons so we can practice at home.
- Classroom Setting: When looking at mainstream preschools, look for classrooms with carpeting and ceiling tiles (to reduce noise). Locate the heating/cooling systems and make sure they don't provide too much background noise.
- The Other Students: Drew's teachers had all of the students sit in circle time this morning, and they talked about Drew's CI's and how they help him hear. They took one of them off and let the other children touch it, hoping to cut down on their curiosity. They also set the rule that no one is to touch Drew's ears.
- Which Ear is Which?: In the picture above you may notice that Drew is wearing a red microphone cover on his processor. Because Drew has such a variance in map intensity, we wanted the teachers to be able to clearly tell the right ear versus his left. So, going with "red is right", we put a red mic cover on his right processor.
We're really excited to see what this year will bring for Drew. I certainly think it will help us understand exactly how well Drew can hear, primarily in a classroom environment. Drew's Early Intervention teacher is curious, as well, and we are planning on observing to see how Drew performs in this setting.
Knowing him, he'll do great!