Back to School Hearing Test
It’s back to school time once again, and parents across the Roanoke Valley are trying to prepare their children for the new academic year by providing all they will need for success.
New backpack. Check.
New shoes. Check.
Pencil case. Check.
Everyone knows that good hearing is essential for young children to develop normal speech and language skills, and that’s why all babies in the commonwealth of Virginia have their hearing tested at birth. But did you know that there is strong link between hearing and literacy? The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education recommend children have their hearing tested prior to first grade, when reading skills become more defined.
The American Academy of Audiology (www.audiology.org) has some helpful information for parents of young children regarding the link between hearing and literacy. The Academy has a reference guide for parents called “Hear to Read”. It points out that a “steady auditory input of about five to six years is needed for reading readiness”. If a child has lacked some of that input, from unidentified hearing loss – like the loss associated with childhood ear infections, they are less ready to make sound connections. It becomes much harder for them to connect the sounds of the letters of the alphabet to strung together written words.
Some of the skills needed for reading include figuring out what a word is by sounding out the letters (decoding), and stringing two or more sounds together to make a word. In fact, the most basic skill in reading is learning to apply a sound (i.e., B in Box) to a specific letter.
If you are the parent of young child entering elementary school, be sure to ask your pediatrician for a hearing screening for your child. If your child does not pass the screening, your doctor can refer him to a hearing spet called an audiologist, for further evaluation.
If your child does pass the hearing test, you can further prepare him for reading by playing some simple listening games. You can talk about the sounds in words and change letters to make rhyming words. List some words that start with the same sound – alliteration can help prepare kids for reading. Children especially like to identify words that start with the first letter of their name. Talk with her about similar words (synonyms) and opposites (antonyms). All of these skills are dependent upon good listening. It’s a skill that will serve him well his whole life.