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How Your Toddler Learns

Read this page to see how young children learn.

Children learn by listening to people talk.
When we're very young, we learn so much without even trying. We learn just by listening to people talk.Children cutting up a pumpkin

  • We share information about what's happening around us.
  • We tell each other about what's happening in our families and neighborhoods.
  • We talk about our thoughts and feelings.

Children with hearing loss can miss a lot of that.

Three important things that children learn about by listening:

1. Time

  • When we talk, we discuss times - yesterday, tomorrow, next week - in a few minutes.
  • A hearing-impaired child may miss the words 'now' and 'later.'
  • For children with hearing loss, things just seem to happen.
    • Things happen for no clear reason.
    • Things happen without a sense of time.

2. How and why things change

When we talk, we tell each other what we plan to do. A child with hearing loss may:

  • Have trouble with changes in her schedule.
  • Have trouble changing from 1 activity to another.
  • Have trouble moving from 1 place to the next.

For a child with hearing loss, everything seems to just happen. There's no hint of what comes next.

Help your child before she even begins to talk.

  • Use gestures.
  • Use signs.
  • Show pictures.
  • Use anything else you can think of to help your child remember and associate to the place you are going.

Without this extra help, some children may become nervous when things change. They will try to keep to the same, familiar routine.

3. What feelings are

  • If your child can't hear, she may not know the words for feelings.
    • She may not even know words for important feelings, like happy, mad or sad.
  • Your child may not understand what feelings are.
    • She might not even know how to tell you when she's feeling mad, tired or hungry.
  • Parents talk about feelings with their children a lot.
    • This is how children learn to identify or know their feelings.
  • Some hearing-impaired children may get upset easily if they can't tell you what they're feeling.

Next: How you can help your toddler

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NIDCD

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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