Several years ago, I joined my then first grade son in his classroom for Family Time, a monthly event where students could highlight something special about their family to the class. Most families brought in unique foods or led the children in cultural activities related to their ethnicity or country of origin, but we did something different. We brought in earplugs and talked to the class about taking care of their hearing. This was special for our family because of my hearing loss. You can read more specifics of our class visit here.
That experience taught me how important it is to start teaching children about hearing health in elementary or middle school. During my visit, the students were enthusiastic, engaged in the activities and asked lots of questions. They were also willing to take home the earplugs I handed out and ask their parents to help them use them when things got loud. Peer pressure was not yet a factor.
After the session, I spoke to my children’s school about implementing a more formal hearing health education program as part of the science or health curriculum, and while they were intermittently enthusiastic about the idea, the lack of ready-made materials was a stumbling block.
When I discovered the new It’s A Noisy Planet Teacher Toolkit online, I was thrilled. The kit includes a downloadable slide deck AND script that any teacher or volunteer can use to teach students about hearing health. The presentation includes information about how hearing works, how loud sounds can damage hearing and what people can do to protect their hearing. There are links to relevant YouTube videos and other infographics that help keep the presentation lively.
Several in-class activities are suggested and tutorial videos are on the website to show teachers how to implement them. Handout materials are also available. Everything that a teacher or volunteer would need to implement an excellent school presentation about hearing health is easily accessible. And it is all free!