The eight preschoolers sat in a semi-circle, their curiosity and enthusiasm apparent. "What are we going to make?" asked four-year-old Adam, referring to the oversized mixing bowl that his teacher had just placed before them. Through a series of questions and answers, the children discovered they were to help make a cake to celebrate the country's birthday. The bowl was continuously passed around so that each child would have a chance to "pour the mix," "pour the water" and "stir the mix." And as each student was warmly encouraged to verbalize his actions, it was easy to believe that no cake had ever been as delicious as this one promised to be. For not only were these children learning abut cake and history, but this class was in session at the Summit Speech School, and these severely hearing-impaired children were in the process of learning how to speak.
The Summit Speech School is one of only 23 schools nationwide that is committed to teaching hearing-impaired infants and preschoolers to listen and speak. This September, seventy percent of the School's graduates will be entering their neighborhood kindergartens. This impressive ratio of success in mainstreaming students has proven consistent over the years. Since timing and continuity are so critical for the hearing-impaired child, the School offers its full range of programs during the month of July, as well as throughout the regular school year.
The Summit Speech School is a private non-profit organization that operates under the philosophy that it is every child's right to learn how to speak, and to ultimately decide for himself whether or not he wants to be an active participant in the speaking community. Its students have come from over 120 communities within fourteen counties in New Jersey including Union, Essex, Middlesex, Morris and Somerset. The School prides itself on never having had to turn away a youngster that it believed might benefit from its services.
An Early Intervention Program is offered for children at birth up to age three. This program is a combination of individual parent/infant/teacher sessions and small group instruction. During the individualized sessions, parents learn how they can make the most of everyday activities, in terms of helping their children to develop auditory and oral skills.
Students in the Preschool Program attend half-day classes five times a week. Auditory training, speech and physical and occupational therapies are all integral parts of its program. For those children who have fluctuating hearing losses, often a result of recurring ear infections, a Language Enrichment program is available. The School, sensitive to the special needs of the parents as well, also provides psychological counseling and various support groups, including a group for dads only, as part of its basic program. (Article continues...)