Friday, January 21, 2011

Going to "School"

An important step in a toddler's development is for them to spend time with their peers in a social setting. I feel it is especially important for a child with cochlear implants to do this, so they can pick up on social cues and subtle nuances in language from their peers. Ava is in a home full of much older siblings and us, her parents. While she is drawing phenomenal amount of language from us all, I believe it is equally important in her overall language development, to spend time with other 2 year olds.

I am going to be honest here. Part of me has a fear that Ava may experience rejection by her peers. I grew up with hearing aids. I did not experience rejection myself (except for one smart-assed boy in grade 7 who made a couple smart-assed comments about my hearing aid, which I just let roll off, although it did sting at the time). Ava's older sister Lauren, who is 6, wears hearing aids. So far, knock on wood, she hasn't had any problem with her peers. Lauren's teacher of the deaf played a role in this, I'm sure. She had the clever idea to have Lauren make a book complete with Lauren's own illustrations of all the parts and functions of her hearing aids and Lauren read this to her class and to the principal. Right from the get-go, Lauren's peers were made aware of Lauren's hearing aids, why she got a sound-field and then an FM system and how they need to face Lauren when they talk to her. She has a ton of friends and frankly, they don't even think about her hearing aids or remember that she has them. I'm hoping that this will be the same with Ava too. But, who has really seen implants before? Don't get me wrong. I am eternally grateful for the technology. But I feel I have to do everything in my power so that Ava gets off to a good start socially, with her peers. I want the world to see just what a lovely vivacious full of energy and zest little girl Ava is. And the sooner, the better. In a group setting, Ava can learn things like turn-taking, sharing, empathy and conflict resolution. Last September, I enrolled Ava in a mom/tot group. The group meets for two hours every Wednesday in a school-like setting and follows a school-like routine. Ava LOVES it. I mean absolutely its her favourite place in the world to go to.

First, it's FREE PLAY at the many different stations, such as painting, colouring, puzzles, dress-up, toys, play-dough, potato head, books, etc.

Then, we do a craft. Here, we decorated our own gingerbread men and of course devoured them.

Then, its SNACK TIME!

Then we go upstairs to the big GYM to play with bouncy balls and "What Time is it Mr. Wolf?"

And then, we go back downstairs to pick out an INSTRUMENT for our marching band

Next, we have CIRCLE TIME. We sing songs and have a story.

Then we line up and wait for our name to be called. "Ava be nimble, Ava be quick, Ava jump over the candle stick."

Of course, our day would not be complete without a gazillion HUGS from "teacher" Jessica