During pre-school and primary school years many children suffer middle ear infections (Otitis Media) and intermittent hearing loss. Some studies suggest that up to 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in rural communities present with Otitis Media (OM).
A middle ear infection can significantly reduce a child’s ability to hear clearly. Left untreated, the infection may result in hearing loss, which can mean:
- speech, language and learning delays;
- behavioural problems; and
- a negative impact on a child’s social, physical, emotional and educational development.
The long-term impact of hearing loss can result in:
- introverted and disruptive behaviour;
- poor attendance at school;
- decreased social interaction; and
- low self-esteem.
Children with hearing loss often have to work extra hard at school to hear what is happening in the classroom. This can make them tired and distracted.
The Care for Kids’ Ears kit for teachers and teachers’ aides has been created to raise awareness of ear disease and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Featuring the characters Kathy and Ernie, the kit aims to deliver positive and consistent ear health messages to young children (up to Year Two) whilst also helping you, one of the most influential care providers of children, understand the ear health message.
The complete Teacher’s kit can be viewed on the download page.
Fast facts - education
To prevent hearing loss in young children it is important teachers and teachers’ aides understand the key ear health messages.
- The symptoms of a middle ear infection in children can include a cold, runny ear, pain, fever, pulling at ears, not eating, diarrhoea or vomiting and not hearing properly.
- Sometimes middle ear infections show no symptoms.
- Children should have their ears checked regularly by a health worker, nurse, or doctor.
- Prompt treatment can avoid permanent damage.
If you think a child in your class may have an ear infection or hearing loss, talk to their parent or carer. If appropriate, you can encourage the parent or carer to take their child to see the health worker, nurse or doctor to have their ears checked. Or, you could invite your local health worker, nurse or doctor to your class to talk about ear health.