Hearing Loss and School

Claire Walley
January 16, 2024

Hearing loss can impact children in a lot more ways than we think. Hearing loss refers to the partial or full loss of hearing in one or both ears. This means a child will struggle with communication, listening and taking on new information. Be that direct information, such as instructions or environmental information, hearing a car horn or a dog barking for example. To understand their lived experience, we first must consider how much sound has an impact on our lives.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and listen. Now open them – what did you learn?

There is so much we learn from the noises around us and if you have hearing loss – that learning experience is taken away from you. As educators we need to ensure that we provide students with hearing loss with environmental audio information, as well as academic audio information. So that children can make good progress and feel part of their classroom and school community.

Another factor we must consider is gaps in learning. Often children with hearing loss will have either missed information in school due to late diagnosis or missed information because they have not heard it. As we know children are great strategists and will have come up with many ways of coping with their hearing loss in school, most probably…

“Did you understand that?”

“Yes Miss, I am fine.”

It is important that children are encouraged to firstly answer honestly, without embarrassment about their level of understanding, and this is achievable via good classroom climate, rather than focussing solely on the child with hearing loss. Second, it is important that we are providing all audio information in a written or visual format. And lastly, make sure you are working in collaboration with the child – have open and honest conversations about their understanding. They may have excellent learning experiences in your class but may have missed some foundational learning earlier on in their school career.

Image source – https://www.audiology.org/an-overview-of-hearing-loss-in-children/

Another aspect to consider is the physicality of having hearing loss, especially for those children with partial hearing loss. Often children with hearing loss will move a lot in class, aiming their ear towards the teacher or source of sound. Sadly, too often this means they are sanctioned for not sitting still or not looking at the board – which is ridiculous, but often a reality. It is important as teachers that you have a good understanding of your classes needs and if that includes a child with hearing loss, understanding their specific hearing needs. Which ear is stronger, where should they sit and do not sanction them for trying to listen to you!

Hearing loss will have a huge impact on a child’s life in school. But we must always remember – it is not having an impact on their academic or social abilities. They should be encouraged to challenge themselves academically and socially, with some sensible accommodations in place to assist them on their way such as:

  • Sit children at the front of the class so they can see your face clearly to allow them to lip read (if appropriate).
  • Allow them to sit in a place that has a good range of movement, so they can swivel on their child to ‘follow sounds’.
  • Ensure good classroom climate, so the sound level is low to allow for easy listening.
  • Develop a support culture within your class so children feel confident in being honest about their level of understanding.
  • Do not assume lack of focus with a child with hearing loss.
  • Provide visual and written resources for all audio information in the classroom.

More information on hearing loss can be found on our Instagram https://www.instagram.com/senexpert/ or at https://www.healthyhearing.com/help/hearing-loss/children.

The SEN Expert offers a range of services for young people, families and schools. We offer support for parents to help navigate the complex world of Special Educational Needs. We will work with you closely to ensure the best for your child.

The SEN Expert was set up by Claire in 2021 following a successful career spanning 12 years in school improvement, special educational needs, safeguarding and the arts.

Claire has worked as a Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Headteacher, Consultant and SENCO in both state and private schools in inner city London, the Southwest, the Midlands and the USA.

Throughout her career, Claire has ensured solid outcomes for the young people she has worked with. Be that a set of good exam grades, a placement in specialist setting or getting a part time job.

Claire is a working mother, and understands the challenges parents face trying to ensure their children are happy and successful. We aim to provide young people with a creative route to the personal and professional adult life they deserve.

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