Often, deaf children learn to sign so that they can communicate their needs and also learn in schools for the deaf. However, signing is not the only method of communication. In schools today, there is a Maternal Reflective Method, sometimes called Oral Reflective Method, which teaches partially or fully deaf children how to learn and talk instead of just signing. This has a number of benefits. The following includes a basic guide to how the Maternal Reflective Method works in a school for deaf children.
This Method is based around teaching deaf children to write down everything that is said or conducted in a classroom exercise, activity, or discussion. This helps deaf children enhance their reading, writing, and speech skills. Memory is incredibly important. This is why writing everything down is so important. The memory creates important patterns that can later help people not only read and write but properly verbalize what they need. The Method uses the word maternal because it is referencing how parents and teachers often communicate and talk with toddlers when teaching such children how to speak.
The Maternal Reflective Method involves texts being written by the teacher based upon conversation in class. This immediately gives a greater transparency of meaning as the child will know/recognise the content of the text, making it meaningful, motivational, and relevant. This enriches and reinforces linguistic development. The more writing that is done, the easier it is for deaf children to learn the structure, organization, and rules of language. This in turn makes it easier for people to learn how to speak as well as develop important critical thinking skills. The text can also be written to the linguistic level of the pupils and vocabulary/language structure can be reinforced in each text. This becomes the reflective element to the Maternal Reflective Method when the children develop their reading skills and learn to understand and compartmentalize the rules of language in a more conscious way. Thus the child’s understanding of language continually develops text upon text. Pupils are also directed to write down everything from teachers’ lectures and lessons to what their peers sign and write. The more that is written, the more that is committed to memory.
Father Van Ulde, a teacher for the Netherlands St. Michielsgestel School for the Deaf developed this method. Students at schools for deaf use this model so that they can learn more than just signing. After all, signing is a great tool but not everyone knows how to sign or understand sign language. Learning how to verbalize needs and ideas ensures that deaf children can get across key ideas even when they are not around their peers, families, and those who are schooled in sign language. Experts should guide this Method. Many professionals in the deaf world say that the ideal age to introduce this learning technique would be at the age of six.
The Maternal Reflective Method teaches children that they can do anything other kids can do. This includes speaking, singing, laughing, and just being a child. Thus, the Method not only teaches deaf children important verbal or speech cues but can also enhance their learning and social skills, too, so that they do not always feel different or isolated. This in turn can improve a student’s grades, self esteem, and can provide him or her with more options when it comes to after-school programs and future schools. The Method can continue to be used when they become adults and enter the professional world.
Deaf children do not have to feel like outsiders to the speaking world. They may lack their hearing but it is possible to learn how to both sign and to speak to get across ideas, concerns, and needs to teachers, parents, and peers. Normalcy is important to deaf children and to their parents. The Maternal Reflective Method is something that can help deaf children better understand language and can truly help them to one day speak. This can only improve a child’s school performance and enhance their social skills, too.