School supplies have been purchased. Immunizations are up to date. But has your child’s hearing been tested? One of the ways in which we learn is by hearing. You need to hear to follow directions and you need to hear to learn how to read. Does your child have the best ability to hear? If your child has even a mild hearing loss, there are negative consequences. The student will miss important speech sounds. Reading will be difficult, and your child may not like school because of trouble hearing in the classroom. Remember, not all hearing losses are permanent. A child may have too much earwax, fluid behind the eardrum, or even have a foreign object in their ear like Play-Doh! Because there is a connection between listening to speech and learning to read, it is important to be sure that a child can hear all of the speech sounds. One of the first steps in learning to read is associating a sound with a particular letter. If the child cannot hear the sound, it is harder to make the association between letters and sounds. A child who has a hearing loss also tends to take longer to develop new vocabulary. Therefore, assuring that a child can hear well will help the child to be successful in the classroom. What can you do to help your child learn to read? Experts agree that reading to children is one of the best things that you can do. You might also have your child’s hearing checked. If the student uses hearing aids and other assistive devices, they should be checked to ensure that they are working properly so that the child hears your voice as you are reading. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s hearing, University Health System’s Hearing and Balance Center has a team of audiologists that can help. You can reach us by email, or by calling 358-4583. Michelle L. Tejada, AuD and Jerome Evans, AuD, are audiologists at University Health System's Hearing and Balance Center.