About our baby classes
At our Family Centre in Hampshire we provide nursery services for deaf babies from birth to around 18 months of age, at which point they move on to our toddler nursery service.
Our baby sessions last for two hours - parents attend the baby classes once a week with their children. We provide two classes - one for children from birth to around one year, and another for children from one year to around 18 months (at which point the child and parents can move up to our toddler classes).
Through these services we aim to engage and stimulate deaf children throughout their earliest years, helping nurture strong listening skills that will equip them in their journey to developing speech and language.
These services are provided by our skilled and experienced Education team of Teachers, Speech and Language Therapists, Classroom Assistants and Regular Volunteers.
"We have loved our time in the baby nursery. We have enjoyed watching our son's skills grow and develop - his confidence amazes us."
We believe that one of the most important aspects of our baby classes is the support that parents give to each other. During their time attending our baby nursery parents and children form relationships and friendships with each other which often last for many years.
We also support parents with information and leaflets which cover topics such as hearing tests, audiograms and hearing loss, and listening and language development. In this way, we give parents the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills they need to foster their child's overall development, and to share with others the feelings, triumphs and obstacles their family is experiencing.
The baby class curriculum
Our teaching team plans the lesson content carefully, ensuring that our Baby curriculum follows the objectives of the Department for Education's Early years foundation stage statutory framework (EYFS) that sets out the standards that school and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years of age.
Activities during the baby classes
The classes encompass a wide range of activities that aim to engage and help stimulate the children's residual hearing to help nurture strong listening skills and to foster early communication skills that will equip them in their journey to developing speech and language.
We also aim to help parents know how to keep their baby's hearing technology working effectively on a day-to-day basis, so their child can access the fullest possible range of sound frequencies.
During the baby classes, members of The Elizabeth Foundation's teaching staff:
- monitor hearing aids and help parents resolve any difficulties
- explain and demonstrate the importance of daily audiological management
- demonstrate and discuss basic strategies and fun-filled ideas for the development of:
- preverbal, and
- early language skills
A typical session includes the following elements:
- 'hello' circle time,
- snack time (incorporating listening, language learning and turn-taking opportunities),
- story time,
- free play,
- creative activities,
- music and singing, and
- 'goodbye' circle time.
Assessing progress and setting targets
We regularly assess, with the parents' input, each child’s early listening skills and their nonverbal and verbal communication skills. These assessments form the basis of regular Individual Education Plans that target specific language and listening skills for development.
In addition, every baby has the opportunity of individual sessions to help support and consolidate the work done in the nursery environment and develop listening and related language skills.
A free service
We do not currently request a fee for the Baby classes, but appreciate any voluntary contributions parents feel able to make. We subsidise the full cost of providing this specialist service for deaf babies using a range of sources of charitable income. The Elizabeth Foundation is a registered charity and we rely on income from a range of sources to support as many deaf children and their families as possible, wherever they live.
Our education services are rated as 'Outstanding' by Ofsted: "This provision is outstanding. Staff promote children’s communication and language skills exceptionally well using highly effective strategies, giving children the confidence to join in ... Children play in exceptionally well-resourced play areas where they enjoy rich and varied learning experiences. The staff provide exciting and enjoyable activities that motivate and inspire children’s thinking."