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How to support your deaf child playing with their hearing siblings

Published Date: 15 Jun 2020
Photo: Parents and two children playing a board game together.

Play is very important for children to develop their communication and social skills and build strong family bonds. It's also a natural way for a child to explore their experiences and communicate through movements and interactions.

If your deaf child has a hearing sibling, you may be unsure about how to create play environments that support both of them. The main thing to remember is that a deaf child doesn’t need any special toys to be able to play with their hearing sibling. They can use the same toys to interact with each other.

How to support them in their playing

By participating in your children's play, you can promote communication skills and deaf-awareness techniques to your hearing child. For example, you could get your deaf child's attention before speaking to them. Your hearing child will learn to do the same thing by copying your behaviour. You could also encourage both children to use signs so they learn their meanings through play.

If your child uses a radio aid, let your hearing child use it when they are playing. This will help your deaf child to hear everything their sibling says even if they are facing away from them or have moved across the room. This works especially well during outside play.

Although modelling behaviours through play is important, don’t feel like you have to be there for every play session. Children will use the toys and resources available to them to communicate with each other. For example, a child might gallop a toy horse around the room, and then climb on their sibling to pretend to be horses!

Andrea Yavasheva, Early Years Programme Officer