Improving your child’s personal development

There are many things you can do as a parent to maximise the chances of your child fulfilling their potential.

Reading With Your Child

You are encouraged to read as much as you can with your deaf child to help improve their language development and here are some suggested tips:

  1. Sit in directly in front of your child making eye contact rather than sitting side by side. This means the child can see you clearly.
  2. Always keep yourself and the book in view of the child. If your child is distracted and looks away, don’t be afraid to wave your hand in front of their child’s eyes so that their attention is drawn back to you.
  3. When you are signing the story with your child, you can point to words and pictures that relate to the signs. For example, the story of the “Three Little Pigs”. You can sign the word ‘pig’, point to the written word ‘pig’ and show your child a picture of it. Your child will now have seen what a pig looks like, knows the sign for it and can also recognise the written word for it.
  4. Make sure you engage in conversation with your child; point to pictures and ask them what it is. If they do not reply, sign to them again until they reply.
  5. Remember, have fun with your child! Don’t treat it as a classroom lesson. Keep it fun but yet still educational.

The same tips can be applied to everything in the child’s environment. While you are feeding your baby, show them the signs of the food they are eating. You can also do this while you are clothing your child, bathing your child etc. Sign the words that relate to the activity.

Pictures & DVDs

It is not unusual that a deaf child will love bright colours and visuals props. Buy flash cards with pictures of different objects or animals. This is a good way to spend a journey in a car or a bus. You can even make your own flashcards that are related to your family life at home. You can have pictures of siblings, parents, grandparents, close friends and neighbours with their names or relation underneath it. This increases your child’s vocabulary and memory!

When your child is watching cartoons or television programmes, you can put on the subtitles which means that the English word will come up on the screen. This exposes your child to the English language and can increase their literacy skills as they might become familiar with a word that is used frequently.

It is vital to maintain this kind of development and it is recommended that you start reading and signing with your child as early as possible so that they can have the best head start in life.

Meeting Up

It is a good idea to encourage your child to mix with other deaf children. It has no negative effects on your child’s development; in fact it will improve their social skills. This will also give you a chance to talk to other parents of deaf and hard of hearing children as you are both going through the same experience.

You can read more in Chapter 7 – ‘Further Support’, for information on organisations that can provide you with any additional support you need.

Irish Deaf Society