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American Annals of the Deaf

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Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know

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To this list we can add one firm prediction about the future: More and more print-enabled technologies will be developed, and the necessity for good writing skills will not diminish in the foreseeable future.


From our years of interacting with parents with deaf children, we have heard a variety of stories about what they have done to help their children write. We have taken the liberty of sharing some of these with you below.

1. Provide the tools for writing throughout the house. Keep a pile of recycled paper along with pencils, pens, and crayons in different rooms, including the child’s bedroom.

2. Keep a white board and washable pen handy to write down what is needed from the store.

3. Write shopping lists together and then group items into categories—meats, vegetables, dairy, and so forth.

4. Introduce your child to children’s crosswords and other word games.

5. Plan a birthday party. Make a list of guests and send out invitations. Make place cards for each guest and write out thank-you notes.

6. Arrange for a pen pal. Some schools for deaf children and deaf education programs in public schools have their own Web sites and actively seek pen pals for their students. Be creative and reach out to someone overseas through pen pal websites that can be found on the Internet.

7. Have the child write out a plan for a vacation or day trip. Encourage note taking during the trips. These plans and notes do not have to be unduly long and comprehensive. They can be written on any piece of paper or typed up on the computer.

8. Make a family tree. Begin with names and birth dates only, then expand the list to show where everyone now lives; if the child’s interest holds, then include places where family members work.

9. Have your child tell you a story, then write it down and read it back. If your child is young enough and enjoys drawing, then have him illustrate the story.

10. Help him open a bank account, fill out a magazine subscription, or help you complete a free raffle ticket form often found in malls or local papers.

11. Make a book. Use personal photos or pictures from a magazine. Paste these in a book and have him write a word, phrase, or sentence under it. As the child gets older, encourage increasingly more elaborate stories under each picture.

12. Keep a log of daily activities. Logs are simple entries stating what was done with no elaboration. For example,

Monday, August 13, 2001. Strong winds and rain all day. Stayed inside and looked at old photos. Sloppy Joe’s for dinner.

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