Engaging in conversation with deaf children during storytime is the most important thing parents can do
This one is a no brainer. But it would seem that different parents have different ways of reading with their children. I’m not saying that what parents are doing is wrong, reading to your child is great, full stop. But there are some techniques to focus on more than others.
Studies referred to by Mueller and Hurtig (2009) showed that hearing parents of deaf children seemed to focus on the text of the story to teach their children letter names and sounds.
So, having a conversation about the story, it’s characters, the plot and what the child thinks will happen next is more important to language development and incidentally will give the child more vocabulary when signing or speaking.
If the parent feels they may not know enough signs, this should not put them off. They should have a go anyway!
Mueller, V., and Hurtig, R. (2009) Technology-Enhanced Shared Reading With Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: The Role of a Fluent Signing Narrator. Available from http://rasit.org/files/J._Deaf_Stud._Deaf_Educ.-2010-Mueller-72-101.pdf (last accessed 03 September, 2013)
Mother and Child Cover image courtesy of the California School for the Deaf