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Isabelle starts nursery

Published Date: 16 Sep 2021

“The days are long but the years are short.” All those sleepless nights, endless nappy changes, the mess of weaning and, in the blink of an eye, suddenly our grown-up girl is about to start nursery! We’ve been lucky enough to have family childcare until now so this will be Isabelle’s first venture into a setting at three and a half years and she’s SO excited.

As a deaf adult myself, I’m familiar with the difficulties she may face with her hearing loss in a noisy group environment. Whilst she’s excelling in her listening and speech at home, it helps that it’s quiet and enables her to focus. This is a privilege she won’t always have at school. It was important to find the right setting and have things in place ahead of time so I started touring a few schools with Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) last year. As it happens, we were really happy with the school in our catchment area. A huge plus point is their smaller class size within the nursery – this means less noise and more space. For Isabelle, this will give her a better chance to pick out the sounds of the staff and her peers amongst the constant buzz of background noise.

Our Teacher of the Deaf has been a huge source of support from the start of our search, liaising with the school staff and assisting in their specifications for Isabelle’s 1:1 learning support assistant who will ensure she doesn’t miss anything. We’ve arranged to meet with staff ahead of her start date for a ‘cochlear implants 101’ chat and to get them to practise replacing her ‘ears’ when they fall off. Meanwhile, with any excuse to get my laminator out, I’ve made up two information sheets for staff to refer to. One with the basics of the equipment and how to troubleshoot. The second covering things we have to be cautious about, such as water and static, and basic communication tips like not covering their mouth and getting her attention before they speak. So much of this is second nature to us as parents now but this required going back to basics.

School covered, it was time to prepare Isabelle for this next chapter. She was able to visit the nursery and meet her teachers before the summer. She has not stopped talking about nursery since! We’ve spent time practising and repeating the staff names as they could be easy to miss when mentioned in class. As a teaching assistant with early years experience myself, I thought I’d role play a nursery session with her so she had a better idea of what to expect. This covered everything from hanging up her bag on her peg, listening for her name in the register, short phonics and maths sessions. She loved it! I did, however, start to regret it when she asked to play nursery five times a day! I’m hoping the real thing lives up to her expectations.

It’s a big deal letting go and leaving your child in the care of others, especially when they have an additional need. Whilst I can’t promise I won’t have a wobble leaving her for the first time, the control freak in me is happy we’ve done everything we can to prepare and ease her in. Reach for the stars baby girl, we’re so proud of you.

Nicky

Nicky and her husband Ross are parents to Isabelle (3). Isabelle is profoundly deaf and wears cochlear implants. Nicky is severely deaf herself and wears a hearing aid.