In Ireland deaf children, like all Irish children, are entitled to the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) year. For deaf children, preschool supports early language development for future learning. However, your child will obviously have a lot more barriers to overcome than children without a hearing difficulty and so staff and parents must work together and find ways of ensuring the child can learn and develop.
Teamwork by parents and staff at crèches and/or preschools is the key to meeting a child’s specific needs and maximizing their learning potential. Depending on the child’s deafness, this learning may centre on early intervention and language development.
Early intervention has two main goals. The first is to teach the child to communicate, and to interact socially. The second is for the child to learn how to participate fully in family life. Preschool staff working with deaf children can support this communication development by giving the child one-on-time to consolidate recent learning.
Language development is a challenge for deaf children. Severely deaf children don’t automatically absorb language in their daily environment, so their early words need to be taught by visual means and gestures. Some children learn signs, with others relying on lip-reading. The child’s parents should advise staff how best to communicate with their child.
By working with the staff, your child will be able to learn and develop in a mainstream preschool environment