Special Education Preschool Teaches Talk Communication Is Key in Classes Designed for Hearing-Impaired Kids
Grondin, Kathryn, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Kathryn Grondin Daily Herald Staff Writer
Just last summer, 3-year-old Ally Kurczek knew only to point, cry or throw a tantrum to tell her parents what she wanted.
Now, the Geneva preschooler can tell her parents with a few motions of her hands that the family's cat is sleeping, or she's hungry or she knows what a mouse looks like.
Ally is one of 15 Fox Valley children learning how to speak and use sign language in a special preschool for hearing impaired 3- to 6-year-olds.
The preschoolers learn how to read lips, sight read and listen in the Mid-Valley Special Education Cooperative program in Geneva's former Fourth Street school.
"When there's no communication, all they know is to cry or scream," parent Tricia Kurczek said. "It gets very frustrating to not be able to know what they want.
"When you see the communication skills start, it's wonderful."
The preschool is much like any other, complete with shelves of books, blocks and toys and walls covered with pictures, the alphabet and a calendar. The children recite the Pledge of Allegiance, sing the alphabet song, play games, make crafts, listen to stories, practice counting and participate in other learning activities.
The difference is the activities are all language-centered and involve sign language. Also, the special preschoolers attend class for five hours instead of 2 1/2 because teachers need the extra time to prepare the children for kindergarten.
"Everything we do is a language lesson," teacher Mary Langan said. "We teach every word, even 'the.'
"When we talk, we sign at the same time."
Educators must teach every word because the hearing-impaired youngsters have been unable to learn words by mimicking or repeating what their parents say like hearing children do, Langan said. …