Effective Instructional Strategies for Deaf Students (and really all students)

In the journey or raising a deaf child, educational placement is always a challenge and an ongoing question. Recently I shared an older post about the time I removed my child from a residential school for the Deaf and had him at home. He later went back to school in a mainstream public school program. Now he is back at the school for the deaf with a different teacher.

Educational placement is an ongoing question from many parents

From a father of a deaf son, who was heartbroken from my post about pulling my son out of the Deaf school: So you had him in a Deaf school and it didn’t work? And here I’m thinking a Deaf school is what my son needs!” 

Another question from a phone conversation a month back, “What do you look for in a good program or a school for your deaf child? How do I know if it’s a good school?” This post is my answer. 

No matter what kind of program you decide to place your child:a residential school for the Deaf, a day program, a magnet school, there are some basic strategies that will make or break any program. A classroom teacher that implements effective strategies and an administration that encourages and requires such strategies will be a more successful program.

When we told the IEP team we were bringing my son home, the comments we got were supportive: “My grandsons were all homeschooled.” And this one I love, “School is not for everyone.”

In my work as a teacher of the deaf, and now even more as a parent of deaf children; I have seen what strategies will really engage your students/children, and others that will cause behavior problems, boredom and poor overall achievement. The table below shows ineffective instructional strategies and effective instructional strategies. Keep in mind, the ineffective strategies can be used in instruction; it’s how often they are used and to what extent. We all need a little skill and drill to practice and retain information, but too much is too much! 

My advice for parents looking for a good program for their child? 

  1. Tour the school while school is in session, observing the teachers and the students during instructional time.
  2. Review the school’s language policy and philosophy. Use this, but don’t base everything on it. For example, Utah’s language policy is decades old, and their actual classroom practices in the classroom are much better then their language policy implies.
  3. Interview the administration, teachers and staff. Question the use of the effective strategies listed on the right. What is the administration’s commitment to making sure these are carried out in the classroom?
  4. Try to find another parent in the area that has a child attending the school. (This might be tricky) – or review the school’s website and reviews online.
  5. Search for videos the school may have produced. I know some great schools are out there because of the videos they have published on YouTube. Check out these! Animals in ASL by California School for the Deaf Riverside. Wizard of Oz by Florida School for the Deaf.

I’d be happy to be a “sounding board” for your questions concerning programs you are considering! Leave me a comment or contact me.

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