Beyond Child’s Voice: How to Thrive in a Large Group

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Learning in a large group is something that can be challenging for students with hearing loss. In Self-Advocacy class, our students spend several weeks learning about large groups because our students are typically in groups of 17 or less when they are at Child’s Voice.

First, we talk about what a large group could be. It could be dance class, soccer practice, or a school field trip. It typically means a group of more than 20 people.

Next, we talk about things that make large groups challenging for listening to and watching the speaker. It can be difficult to hear if there is a lot of background noise. If the group is very large, it could be hard to get close to the person who is talking in order to see their face. It may be hard to hear and understand other people’s comments or questions if the teacher or instructor does not repeat what they say.

Finally, we discuss ways to improve the students’ ability to hear and watch when they are in a large group. Some ideas include:

  • Sit or stand close to the person who is speaking
  • Sit off to the side so you can see the speaker and most of the other people as well
  • Watch the person who is talking
  • Have the speaker use a remote microphone to reduce background noise

The most important thing that students can do in a large group is to ask for help when they do not understand. They can ask a friend or the teacher to repeat or explain words or information that they did not understand.

We give our school-age students practice with learning in a large group by attending Mainstream Experience once a month. This is a one-hour immersion into a local public school classroom, where our students participate in lessons with hearing peers. When they return to Child’s Voice, the students and teachers discuss how the experience went, what went well, or what could be done to improve their participation and experience. Mainstream Experience is an excellent way for our students to learn firsthand what it will be like when they are in a large group in their neighborhood schools.