Wednesday 9 April 2014

H is for Hearing, Hard work and Happiness

Since I began teaching, I have always had children in my class who had hearing problems or were classified as deaf.  In main stream education, the deaf children have all used hearing aids and had specialist speech and language provision on at least a half termly basis if not more.  But for those children who suffer from ear, nose and throat infections, glue ear or just “lack of hearing” within a normal classroom there is very little provided except the normal to be sitting near to the teacher at the front of the class.

Loss of hearing can badly affect a child’s ability to learn – just think how much auditory information is passed about a classroom each day! 

If a child suffers hearing loss then they will  experience problems with vocabulary as it will develop much slower and a gap will be created between them and their peers that without intervention will widen each year.  They will not understand abstract words (those words we cannot put a visual to) or those words with multiple meanings.  Often they will talk in much shorter and simpler sentences and struggle to hear the endings of words so that they have major problems using phonics to help them spell words and even more problematic misunderstand or misuse verb tenses, plurals and possessives when speaking and writing.  If they cannot hear correctly this may cause their own pronunciation problems and lead their own speech being difficult for others to understand so isolating them from their peers and leading to frustration when trying to communicate within class.

All of this means it is vitally important for parents to discuss possible hearing loss and catch up/intervention programs as soon as possible with teachers rather than wait and to be more forceful with those doctors who allow children to just drift along stringing medical appointments out months apart without realising the amount of work within the class that children are not able to understand and are significantly missing out on.
I am introducing a whole class speech and language program aimed at the early years to screen and implement extra provision for those children who need this and for some it will be due to hearing problems.  Ensuring that children catch up with their peers and are successful in overcoming medical problems is essential for the best possible start to their education.  I am hoping this will show the extent to the problems we have in school over speech and communication as well as provide methods for closing the gap.

Hard work and happiness are linked I feel when you work in special needs as everything takes longer and is harder to break in to small steps, diagnose the problems and then try to solve them. As I have stated before, the vast majority of the children with special needs work and try so hard it is truly awesome to be in the same environment as them.  This also means that their triumphs lead to blissful happiness.  Shiny eyed teachers recounting their SEN children’s breakthrough moments to me is wonderful to behold.  Is it any wonder that parents tend to shed tears at our review meetings due to the immense pride they can feel about their child’s attitude and perseverance in trying to overcome their learning differences? Happiness drives us through the hard times.

Let me know your thoughts and feelings please and as always share your insights to help others and myself improve as teachers to these special children.

TpT provides loads of specialist speech therapy freebies which I use at school so a big thank you to those professionals who share their expertise so freely.

Please check these wonderful individuals out:

To have children focus their hearing and processing skills on individual sounds in words I devised a phonics card for 3 and 4 phonic sounds in words – check it out at:


  1. What a nice, sweet post. As a child I had to sit close to the teacher because I had a lot of scar tissue in my ears because of lots of ear infections as a young child. I got over it, but it was a struggle to catch up and then finally in 4th grade my teachers really saw how gifted I was. Great teachers make a world of difference! My hat goes off to all teachers who work so hard for children.
    Kids Math Teacher

  2. Thanks for commenting, Lucy. It is always nice to know of those who have overcome difficulties in school and have blossomed. I really like your maths blog and the different ideas you advocate for teaching it.

  3. Great teachers do make a difference, and those teachers that teach special needs students (somehow I don't like that definition) have a special place in this world and I hope the next. My grandson has autism and for all those teachers who really help him and take the time, they are heroes to me.

  4. Thank you for your comment. I agree that "special needs" is a label that doesn't really sit well - we all have different needs to one another and at different times. I think the main thing is giving the support that is required and that is why many of my small group interventions are for both those children on my special needs register as well as other children who are also struggling with that particular concept the group is targeting or for those who need higher level targets such as gifted and talented children. I am happy that there is no stigma attached to working outside the classroom and am regularly approached by many children who wonder if they can have some time in group x y z etc!

  5. I'm so glad you visited me so I found you. Thank goodness for people like you who do so much and advocate so well! You are appreciated! Mary at Variety, the Spice of Life

    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Mary. I think this A to Z Challenge is a great way of bringing us into each others' lives for that little bit of support when we need it as we all do!