When you have good hearing, it’s easy to take normal everyday sounds for granted without even realizing it.
However, for someone with hearing loss, developing listening skills takes practice. Even the beep of a microwave or the tweet of a bird can be totally new and surprising.
If you have a deaf child with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, I’m sure you’re used to visiting centres for speech and listening therapies. As helpful as those structured sessions are for developing listening skills, sometimes it’s easy for little ones to get bored and switch off because it’s a forced activity.
So here’s how we practice listening skills:
Lately, I have found that going for a simple walk outdoors and talking about all the different noises we can hear has proven to be more effective for Harry’s listening skills than anything else we have tried. Try stomping through a pile of crunchy leaves this fall and watch your child’s reaction to the rustling sound it makes. You could talk about the difference between the noise of a dry autumnal leaf as opposed to a fresh green leaf on a tree.
Harry and I like to sit on a bench watching different vehicles go past, and we talk about how a bus or truck make a ‘big noisy sound’, whereas a car is quiet and a bicycle, even quieter.
I know going to a supermarket with a pre-schooler can be most parents’ idea of hell, but why not turn it into a listening experience?
Harry’s favorite thing to do is to listen to the cashier ‘bleeping’ the shopping at the checkout. I also like to ask Harry to go and get me apples or the milk and put them in the basket to test his listening abilities.
In the Car
There are so many different sounds in the car: the turn signals, horn, sirens whizzing past, and music coming through the speakers. I always used to worry that Harry would be overwhelmed in the car with all of these noises going on around him, but he has always really loved it.
We talk about things in and around the car and Harry often asks me. “What’s that?” when he hears a new sound.
Of course, you don’t actually have to go anywhere to have a listening experience, as there are hundreds of noises to hear in the comfort of your own home. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen and Harry loves sitting and waiting for the microwave to ‘ping’.
You could talk about the noise of a boiling kettle, or running water; what sausages sound like when they are sizzling in a pan, or the sound when toasts pops out of the toaster.