Deafness and me: A toolkit for early years practitioners
Resilience, self-esteem and good mental health are shaped and formed by a child’s early interactions and attachments. Produced in collaboration with children's mental health charity Anna Freud, 'Deafness and me' is an emotional health and wellbeing toolkit for practitioners supporting deaf children in the early years. The guide is designed to support deaf children's social and emotional development through activities, self-reflection and collaboration. It also contains tips for providing an inclusive and accessible learning environment.
Some of the activities included in the toolkit suggest using printed images of deaf characters, deaf children and hearing technology to explore deafness and deaf identity. Download and print our illustrations and colouring pages, or feel free to use your own photographs, resource packs or other picture books.
This resource contains links to further resources about childhood deafness and British Sign Language (BSL) which you may find useful. Some of the resources are available in print and can be ordered for free from our website. You may need to sign up as a member of the National Deaf Children’s Society to order resources. Membership is completely free, and it’s quick and easy to sign up. As a professional member, you’ll also gain access to a range of other membership benefits and learning opportunities.
Resources to support the toolkit
Activity 1: Me and my deafness
- Use our illustrations of deaf children to decorate the child’s personal photo book.
- Read our children’s book, ‘Elephant and the Lost Blanket,' to talk about deafness. Point out the hearing technology you see.
- Watch a signed reading of 'Elephant and the Lost Blanket' (YouTube).
- Check out our full range of children's picture books from the National Deaf Children's Society.
- Learn about childhood deafness.
- Ready Nicky and Isabelle's story.
Activity 2: My name is
- Order or print out our fingerspelling poster to display in your setting. You could also cut out the individual letters for activities.
- Ready William's story.
Activity 3: Music and me
- Watch our playlist of signed nursery rhymes (YouTube playlist).
- Watch our video to learn BSL vocabulary for reading 'Elephant and the Lost Blanket' (YouTube).
- Find out about teaching phonics to deaf children.
- Read Ezekiel's story.
Activity 4: People who support me
- Read our comic about going to the hearing clinic or cut the pictures out for activities.
- Watch Evalina London's video about visiting an audiology department (Evalina London).
- Find out about other professionals who may work with the deaf child in your setting.
- Watch Emma and Toby's story about starting nursery.
Activity 5: My positive self
- Print out images of characters from our children’s books. Talk about the different hearing technology each character is wearing. What’s similar? What’s different?
- Read our article How do I... deal with people staring at my deaf child?
Activity 6: My community
- Watch our videos to learn BSL vocabulary for religious worship.
- Learn tips for making religion deaf-friendly.
- Read our article How do I... help my deaf child to feel part of the deaf community?
- Read Raj and Sharan's story about spreading deaf awareness in their community.
- Read Zain's story about life as a deaf, British Muslim.
- Read Hamza's story about taking part in Islamic celebrations.
- Read Maxi's story about taking part in Jewish celebrations.
Activity 7: When I grow up
- Read career stories from deaf adults.
- Find out about how Rosie works for the BBC.
- Read stories about deaf role models
Activity 8: Making choices
- Use images of characters from our children’s books (see Activity 5) to decorate a visual timetable.
- Use our set of Let's Sign flashcards for emotions, senses and routines to learn BSL vocabulary for routines.
Activity 9: Interacting with me
- Watch our videos to learn BSL signs for feelings and emotion (YouTube playlist).
- Find out about developing language and communication for deaf babies aged 0 to 2.
- Find out BSL videos and resources.
Activity 10: Using my senses
- Use the Let's Sign flashcards from Activity 8 to learn BSL signs for senses.
- Download and print images of hearing technology. Talk about what the children can hear with and without their hearing technology.
- Learn tips for deaf-friendly play activities.
- Download or order our developmental play charts.
- Listen to what different levels of deafness sound like.
Activity 11: Making friends
- Print and cut out our communication tips.
- Find out about how to improve listening conditions in your setting.
- Read tips from parents about encouraging deaf children to make friends.
- Read Millie's story about making friends at toddler groups.
Activity 12: Join in with me
- Order copies of our children’s books to read with your setting or watch videos of ‘The Quest for the Cockle Implant’ and ‘Elephant and the Lost Blanket’ being read in BSL.
- Download our resource, ‘Supporting the pragmatic and social communication skills of deaf children.’
Activity 13: Let’s chat
- Download or order copies of our poster about talking to your deaf friends and display them in your setting.
- Use the poster or the communication tips from Activity 11 to remind everyone about how to be a good communicator.
Activity 14: What am I feeling?
- Download or order our resource, ‘What are you feeling? A guide to help deaf children understand and identify their emotions.’
- Watch our playlist of signs for feelings and emotions (Activity 9).
Activity 16: Problem solving
- Find out more about how you can support deaf children learning to learn.
Activity 17: How do my family feel?
- Read tips from other parents about helping hearing siblings to understand deafness.
- Learn about local deaf children's societies who can support the whole family.
- Read Isla and Anya's story.
- Watch videos with each member of Bess's family talking about their experiences of deafness.
You may also find the following resources helpful when working with deaf children.
- Deaf-friendly early education and childcare
- Emotional wellbeing in deaf children and young people, and their families: A literature review
- Introduction to childhood deafness (e-learning module)