The Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) preschool class focuses on listening, speech, vocabulary, language, social and pre-academic skills. Students range in age from 3 to 5 years and are placed through an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students attend school for either half day or full day sessions Monday through Thursday. Students may also qualify for speech services from a speech therapist. Students in this classroom use hearing aids, cochlear implants and BAHAs to access sound. All students use FM systems to hear the teachers from a distance in the classroom and through noise.
DHH preschool class time is devoted to intentional language activities that are designed to promote speech and language development and academic success. The DHH teacher uses the Cottage Acquisition Sales for Listening and Language and Speech (CASLLS) to track developmental milestones necessary for expressive language skills.
The DHH preschool setting is very unique compared to early childhood settings and attendance is strongly encouraged for students with hearing loss if it is appropriate and least restrictive. The class size should not exceed 7 students with some exceptions. Some preschool students with hearing loss may be better served part time while in a general education setting part time or be provided Teacher Consultant (TC) services in the home district instead. DHH preschool is encouraged for most students with hearing loss for several reasons.
Top 10 Reasons to Attend DHH Preschool:
- Children learn to use hearing equipment properly on a daily basis.
- They learn to become good reporters when their batteries are dead or the FM is not on or working.
- They have the opportunity to meet peers who use and wear hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Parents have more opportunity for training from a DHH teacher to support skills that need to be practiced daily at home.
- They are not overly stimulated with sound as in a larger preschool classroom. They listen, use, and expand language skills in a quiet structured setting with ample opportunity to practice language correctly.
- They have intensive and intentional prescribed listening and language activities in small group for optimal listening and language development.
- The DHH preschool teacher systematically tracks language and creates goals for optimal development. Language samples are taken daily and a language inventory is used to track development
- The students have many opportunities to use expressive language correctly.
- In the DHH Preschool, language is modeled and monitored at all times by a teacher and a paraprofessional.
- Centers and lessons are set up specific to their language delays and a teacher consultant cannot fill in those delays and gaps. Gaps tend to increase significantly after preschool, especially when students miss out on this intensive and intentional listening and language instruction during the preschool years and cannot be “caught up.”