Education Begins at Home
Education Begins at Home
Parents, siblings, and others provide young children with a context in which development occurs and supports and promotes early learning. In this chapter, we consider the roles of various individuals and early interventions in social, language, and cognitive development before children enter school. Because most deaf children are born to nonsigning, hearing parents, communication in the home is given special consideration, particularly with regard to the kinds of information and experience that contribute to those domains. We also consider the importance of implicit instruction in relation to fostering educational readiness and the potential effects on long-term academic achievement and personal growth. Parents will encounter both opportunities and challenges in raising a deaf child, and research has demonstrated a variety of ways in which they can optimize their child’s development. Therefore, we devote some space to describing the field on which early development takes place. Most important, we will see the importance of deaf children having early access to language, social interaction, and experiential diversity. Because most cases of deafness are not hereditary, many deaf children will have congenital or early-onset hearing losses that are totally unexpected (and usually unrecognized for some time) by their parents. Some of those children will be considered at risk at birth because of the maternal, fetal, or neonatal medical problems that contributed to their hearing losses. Beyond the consequences of initial medical difficulties, factors related to prenatal or postnatal hearing loss may well influence the quantity or quality of interactions the infant has with others in the environment during the first few months. These earliest influences, and their effects, can have ever-widening consequences for development over the first months and years of life. Even before birth, sounds perceived from within the womb can influence the course of development. Early in the last trimester of pregnancy, a fetus will rotate and adopt a new position with the head against the mother’s pelvis. Most fetuses already have considerable responsiveness to sound at this point and can perceive the mother’s voice and heartbeat through bone conduction (Als et al., 1979).
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