If you have a child who is hearing impaired, finding the right school for them can be a difficult choice. Public schools are required by the American With Disabilities Act to provide accommodations for your child, but will this be the best fit for them? Below are some schooling options that are available to you, with a list of pros and cons that will help you as you try to make this difficult choice.
You can send your child to a boarding-school style of school, where your child and other deaf students live during the duration of the school period. There are many advantages to choosing this type of education for your child, including:
- advanced techniques tailored specifically for deaf students
- the chance to interact with peers who struggle similarly and form meaningful relationships with them
- extracurricular activities like sports that your child normally would not be able to participate in while attending public school
- the chance to become completely fluent in sign language and proficient and lip reading
The downsides to this type of education come mostly from separation from family. Students can feel alienated when they return home for holidays and might miss the easy environment that comes with an all-deaf student population.
Private school can help you to get around the cons of public schooling because you will pay your child's tuition and directly be involved with choosing the school that is right for them. Public schools have limited resources and funding for students with disabilities, so while accommodations may be made, your child might not get the level of help he or she needs in the classroom, especially if many students require special needs accommodations. Deaf students are not as common in public school, so special needs funding may go to higher-incidence disabilities, like learning disabilities (LD) or ADHD.
You can choose private schools that have teachers who are specifically trained in American Sign Language, or pay to have an aid that comes in to interpret for your child who does not have to be shared with other students. You can even find private schools that specialize in deaf education, providing many of the pros of a residential-style program, except your child will return home at night. You also have the option to find a religious school if you choose to go private; Catholic schools can be a great resource for your child, as they can help provide spiritual as well as secular instruction in a method that your child can understand. To see if your local private Catholic school has resources for deaf students, contact a school like Saint Thomas Academy.
If you are worried about the cost of tuition at more specialized programs for deaf student, but are frustrated with the options of your local public school, homeschooling can be a good option for some students. The advantages are that your student will be able to learn at his or her own pace and that you can help foster deaf-specific skills, like signing. However, children who are deaf might already feel isolated from the world. Homeschooling may further this isolation, especially if your child is shy in nature. Another potential con is that private, public, and residential schools have a variety of teachers, but you are the only teacher at home. Different teaching styles and strategies can be helpful to challenge your child and teach them different ways to learn.
Choosing your child's school will mean a lot of research. You might even consider relocating so you can be sure your child is receiving the best education possible. Contact private schools in your area to see what programs might be available for your child to succeed in the classroom, and don't forget to apply for grants and scholarships if funding is holding you back from choosing a better option.Share