ST. JOSEPH INSTITUTE REGULARLY HOSTS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES – FROM WEBINARS TO WORKSHOPS, FROM COLLEGE COURSES TO COACHING – ALL OVER THE WORLD.
SJI is dedicated to helping professionals in the field learn, apply, and hone new skills that will help families and students succeed. We offer a variety of training opportunities in partnership with universities, state agencies, and national organizations. In addition, we can be available to offer direct training to professionals in school districts, including on-going coaching and mentoring.
Here are a few examples of what we have been working on now:
“The Importance of Play”
iHear and Early Intervention Therapist, Barb Meyers, M.A., CED, presented a workshop to Early Education teachers in Indianapolis, IN. Focusing on play and its significance in developing language, it targeted children who are deaf and hard of hearing. “Play is the universal language of childhood. It is through play that children understand each other and make sense of the world around them,” she says. “Cognition, language, and play go hand in hand and have a powerful impact on our children’s ability to communicate.” She coaches other educators on the theory that play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imaginations, dexterity, physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Through play, children experience others’ points of view by working through conflicts about space, materials, or rules. “Play is important to healthy brain development and provides the opportunity for children to practice their communication skills,” she counsels.
Children who are deaf or hard of hearing often have difficulty with dramatic play. For example, a child who is 3 years old, according to the Cottage Acquisition Scales for Listening, Language and Speech (CASLLS), would use some internal problem solving, imaginatively role-play with peers, pretend to be a caregiver, and use some form of sequential play. “Because cognition and language go hand in hand, if a child is chronologically 3 years of age, but functioning at an expressive language age of 18-24 months, they don’t have the cognitive ability to use their imaginations to “pretend” to take on a “role” or the language to communicate that role to others. “So how can we help children get to the level needed to participate in imaginary play?” she asks young teachers. “Through 35 years of experience, I can advise that setting cognition goals right alongside language goals is key.”
“It typically takes children 20 minutes to get ‘into’ play. So at SJI, we block off a 40-45 minute period for them to do their center play which includes dramatic play, block play, the sensory table, the reading center, art and fine motor activities,” she advises. “So we set this block of time aside as an unbroken slot to really get into play and stay there. Typically developing children don’t need the intervention and encouragement to play. But our kids with hearing loss, or children with any language delay, really need the language skills to play and begin those essential skills.” She smiles, “When they do, and they really begin to chatter in play, I know I’ve done my job.”
Want to see if Barb’s knowledge can help your staff reach children with hearing loss or just curious to know more about play? Call us at 314-918-1369 and schedule an in-service.
Teri along with fellow presenters Jane Madell, Don Goldberg, Sharon Sandridge, Emilio Alonso-Mendoza (AG Bell) and Percy Denham (sponsor – Instituto Oral Modelo)
Executive Director, Indianapolis, Teri Ouellette presents in Buenos Aires on Executive Function
Executive Functions are the set of mental skills that help you get things done like take notes in class, manage time, or knock out a to-do list (click here for a more detailed explanation). Children with Hearing Loss Research has shown that students with hearing loss, even those who are remarkably successful in language and literacy, often show marked delays in Executive Function. This puts them at risk in school, work, and personal achievement. It calls us to question whether these deficits are the result of a lack of auditory access, or if parents and professionals perpetuate the delays through our teaching approaches.
EF skills are based on the development of the Prefrontal cortex, and just as we are concerned with the development of the auditory cortex, it’s necessary for us to directly address these issues early and throughout each child’s education. We believe that Listening & Spoken Language (LSL) professionals are in a unique position to assess and address EF development, especially at young ages, because of our approach to early intervention and our direct influence on parenting practices. At a conference in Buenos Aires, we will examine as a community the components of Executive Function, look at their relationship to communication as a whole and audition in particular, and look for ways we can utilize best practices in LSL to advance Executive skills. Building Self Advocacy through Auditory Function Auditory Functioning may be the most significant of the nine domains of the Academy for Listening and Spoken Language. It involves more than just the building blocks of detecting and identifying sounds, words, or sentences. It implies a level of integration of listening skills into communication, processing, self-awareness, and the management of daily life.
There is a strong connection between a child’s auditory function and their ability to identify, assess, and advocate for their needs in their environment – in class, in their family, and in social interactions. This connection forms a circular process of self-awareness, self-assessment, and self-advocacy that allows a child to “own” their hearing and communication.