Oral Preschool Program

The Oral Preschool Program is a Norfolk Public Schools program provided in partnership with Old Dominion University. It offers a unique educational setting and services for young children with hearing loss. Within a small, specialized class, children with hearing loss are taught to communicate successfully using spoken language.

Furthering the College & University's Mission

This program delivers unique educational and research opportunities to the ODU community. Through graduate level assistantships, practicum experiences, thesis projects, observations, special presentations and the like, the Oral Preschool Program provides a distinctive contribution to the college's mission of preparing distinguished professionals within the disciplines of early childhood, special education and speech pathology/audiology.

University students are encouraged to contact Janet Knust (jknust@odu.edu) for information on how they can take advantage of these unique opportunities to further their development as future professionals.

A Community Resource

In addition, the Oral Preschool Program supports ODU's mission of outreach and community service by being a resource center for the larger community. The program offers a variety of professional development training opportunities to school personnel, professionals and early intervention providers who work with children having hearing loss. Parent support and training is provided both to families within the program as well as those in the community at large. With a growing need for oral education options for children who are deaf or hard of hearing, the Oral Preschool Program offers another placement option for school divisions.

Collaboration and Support

The Oral Preschool Program is the result of a partnership between Old Dominion University and Norfolk Public Schools, along with collaboration among the Virginia Department of Education, Coalition for Hearing Education and Research (CHEAR), Eastern Virginia Medical School, Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, the Tidewater Scottish Rite Foundation and local Hampton Roads schools.

This broad-based collaboration has as its purposes the delivery of significant and visible community service, the training of current and future professionals who teach deaf or hard of hearing children, the generation of needed research and the development of model programming for children with hearing loss who seek a listening and spoken language outcome. This Norfolk Public Schools placement is available for preschoolers with hearing loss within Norfolk and is also offered to children from other local school divisions as space allows.

Auditory-Oral Education

The Oral Preschool Program teaches young children with hearing loss to communicate effectively by developing spoken language and listening skills based on research supported "best practices" of oral deaf education. Under the guidance of a certified listening and spoken language specialist, children are taught within an intensive, specialized education environment that supports and encourages language development in a natural way. The children also have opportunity to practice skills with hearing peers by regularly participating in Child Study Center preschool classes during both structured and naturally occurring activities. Each activity and lesson in the Oral Preschool is designed to provide rich language and listening practice, and the classroom is acoustically treated to provide the best possible listening environment. In addition, specialized equipment, technology, materials, and teaching methods are utilized that are specific to the education of children with hearing loss.

Information for Parents and School Divisions

Children applying for entrance to this program need to come through their local school divisions and Norfolk Public Schools. Parents who are interested may come to observe, meet the staff and discuss the program in general, but are referred to their local school division to discuss placement for their child. School divisions seeking placement for children will contact Janet Knust regarding the process. Children for whom placement is being sought must be between 2-5 years old and have an active IEP (individual education plan.)

Children's Learning Research Center

This program that focuses on the early care and education of ODU's youngest students while serving as a training facility for our students in early childhood and elementary education.