Oh my gosh! I'm so excited to share this information with you today. Our kids deserve us to be innovators and thinkers and we should be looking one year, three years, five years ahead for them. WHAT I'M ABOUT TO SHARE WITH YOU...can dramatically change your child's therapy. In just the first week, Lexi did a total 180 and began to WANT to work harder at her language development, writing skills and reading comprehension.
About six months ago, my heart broke when I was looking through my daughters MUSICAL.LY APP videos. If you don't know, the app is what most tweens & teens use you share short videos and lip-sync to popular music. They dance and lip sync to their favorite songs. They share them with their friends and can even collaborate with their friends. So Lexi, my nine-year-old, who is deaf and has bilateral cochlear implants, has always struggled to hear lyrics in songs because, well, she's deaf and listens through devices. Miracle? YES. However, hearing lyrics is a big challenge for kiddos with hearing aids and cochlear implants. She LOVES music and that is to be celebrated. She can HEAR IT. She can DANCE TO IT. However, she's off on the lyrics.
Lexi hears perfectly in a booth. She even scored 95% correct "speech in noise", but also in a booth. Y'all, that isn't life. Life is much noisier and we're not always sitting in a booth thinking about how to listen to words through noise. So when our kids are trying to hear lyrics and music, it's not necessarily as easy as sitting in a booth listening to "speech in noise".
So, I'm watching her sweet MUSICAL.LY App videos, and as endearing and sweet as they are, I noticed that she doesn't lip sync correctly and she's just mouthing movement. Enter my heartbreak. More than anything about academics or athletics, we want our kids to HEAR and, first and foremost, we choose cochlear implants because of the social rewards. We want them to be as much like every other kid, and mainstreamed. So things like this always remind us that our child was, in fact, born deaf.
At the same time, currently, I'm looking for different ways to ignite and excite her tutoring sessions. Her tutor is a retired school teacher who is very passionate about kids and literacy. She's a literacy guru. But because of their age difference and the fact that she sees Lexi at the end of the school day, that can be pretty daggone boring. Not just for Lexi, but for her tutor as well. More worksheets, more discussions about reading comprehension, more ways to teach grammar on paper. All of it is creating more mental exhaustion and more frustration by both of them. Lexi hasn't been as engaged and motivated....more like yawns and rebellion. Ex: she put her head down and tried to fall asleep. Time for an intervention? I THINK SO! HA! #ThatsSOOOLexi
So here's where the INNOVATION comes in. We have to think for our children until they're able to THINK FOR THEMSELVES; especially our special needs kiddos. I don't have another minute in my day. We already tutor at home and pre-teach subjects for each week so she knows vocabulary before he hears it for the first time. We already read and read again and discuss main ideas because we know these kids have difficulties with comprehension. She already pitches 4-5 days a week minimum repair for her tournaments every weekend. Has practices for softball and basketball...And, by the way, I have another child that I have to care for in a husband and household and a very demanding full-time job running this charity to help as many families as I can.
How can I accomplish two things in her one hour of tutoring each week? 1. MAKE IT FUN 2. SHE LEARNS & IT'S EFFECTIVE TUTORING?!?!?!
So, I started thinking about song lyrics and how Lexi loves music. How she loves to dance and sing and do the musical.ly app with her friends. And also how she struggles with creative language. Have you ever noticed that words with more than one meaning or words with creative meanings stump our kids with hearing loss who use devices? Has your child ever said, "what does that mean?" All of these things are the things that I've experienced with Lexi.
ENTER MY EPIPHANY!!!! What if we used SONG LYRICS to not only teach creative and metaphoric language, but to start teaching different ways of writing, but also to teach grammar! WHAT IF WE CAN MAKE IT SOCIALLY RELEVANT TO OUR KIDDO??? AND FUN FOR BOTH?!
NEXT, I sent an email to our amazing speech therapist, Dr. Lund at TCU, and she thought it was a brilliant idea. She also reminded me that there's so many sentence fragments in songwriting that another idea would be to have Lexi finish the sentences and start discussing subjects and predicates in complete sentences. So that's what we did.
Y'ALL - SIDE NOTE: Once we're out of this "catch up vocab", "teach them to think", "teach them how to remember the story".....guess what is next?? The next challenge, based on my convos with the brightest minds in this field is WRITING. Middle school is ALL ABOUT WRITING and if our kids don't know how to write a sentence, or how to "think" about vocabulary -- using cues and clues to figure out the word's meaning, then they'll struggle to be a successful writer.
I printed the lyrics to an awesome song that would also have a great social impact on my daughter who is a a tween. "Scars to your Beautiful" by Alessia Cara.
This song has so much meaning, is very metaphoric, and it's… Here's what so important you guys… It is socially relevant to Lexi! (it's also CLEAN!)
Lexi wants to know the words and lyrics to songs! She want to sing along to songs with her friends in the car or on her musically app! She wants to feel confident socially when she's hanging out and listening to music!
Lexi also wants to do well in school! She wants to know the answers to questions when the teacher asks things like what is the subject? What is the predicate? She WANTS to be a good writer.
However, in my time with her; watching her just throw an answer in...it ALWAYS points back to one thing: SHE LACKS CONFIDENCE.
How can we ENGAGE OUR KIDS TO DO MORE WHEN THEY ARE ALREADY DOING SO MUCH TO KEEP UP? WE MAKE IT ABOUT THEM! WE MAKE IT SOCIALLY RELEVANT! We engage them in the conversation.
Today, I told her since she had a hard time with a Reading quiz, she would have to redo it with her tutor. She immediately said "Does that mean I don't get to work on my song lyrics? Mom, I'll try harder and work on it in my free time at school today. I want to work on my songs!"
SCORE! MOM + THERAPIST WIN! TUTOR WIN! Lexi 1, Deafness 0!!!
So every Tuesday for her hour with her tutor, Lexi "studies" song lyrics & music. They listen to the song; they sing along to it together; they talk about the meanings of the words and the meaning of the songs. Do you know what else that teaches them? How to think about writing; about what they're reading! Our kids will have trouble with comprehension. Teaching them to think through a piece of literature as fun as a favorite song will teach them to think about every piece of literature as their favorite song; because that's what writing is! It is a story!
So consider this. Whether it's your son and their favorite clean, rap song, or their favorite country music song, or your daughter's favorite girly pop song, think about allowing their tutoring session to be fun. Be an INNOVATOR for your kids. Think about what would be socially relevant to them!
Is it a cheer? Is it a country music song? Is it their favorite pop song? Do they COOK? Use recipes! Think for them. Be their INNOVATOR.
We don't have to do things because that's the way they've always been done. We are the new generation of deaf. We are the next GEN that will prepare and pave the way for kids and families decades from now. Innovate through love! YOU GO MOMS, DADS, GRANDMAS, GRANDPAS, TEACHERS, TUTORS, THERAPISTS!