How Sign Language Can Benefit All Children in Early Years Settings |

How Sign Language Can Benefit All Children in Early Years Settings

Teaching children to sign at an early age can hold so many benefits.

Posted on

25 January 2018

Last updated on 30 January 2018
How Sign Language Can Benefit All Children in Early Years Settings

Children in early years often develop cognitive thinking before speech meaning they know exactly what they want; yet because their language skills are not yet at the same level are often unable to communicate these. Teaching children to sign can hold so many benefits and can be used and understood from a very early age. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Opening ways of communicating
  2. Can be used throughout a setting and does not need to be restricted to a certain age
  3. Allows children to express needs
  4. Allows children to express interests
  5. Can prevent episodes of frustration and anger
  6. Supports language development
  7. Fosters an inclusive culture
  8. Builds confidence
  9. It’s fun to learn!

SEE ALSO: How Riverston Children's Centre Can Help Your Child Grow

Most early years settings choose to sign with children using Makaton which is a simpler version of British Sign Language. Often the actions are similar to the word e.g. drink is cupping the hand in a ‘c’ shape and bringing it to the mouth. Makaton focusses on the keywords in the sentence and is designed to support spoken language. Signs are always accompanied with the verbal word to assist in language development. All practitioners need to have received some training, whether it be a local course or in-house training delivered by a practitioner/therapist who is already trained in signing. The signs can be introduced to the children through:

  • Singing and storytelling – A fun way to incorporate signs and children remember them because they are actions to songs/stories
  • Routine – Using the same key signs every day as part of daily routines such as meal times and toilet times. These can be used by practitioners and the children will begin to pick them up and also use them.
  • Signing helps bring a setting together and supports everyone in being involved. The children (and staff) love to use the signs and share these with others during activities, especially singing.

    Riverston Training Academy offers training courses in Makaton. To enquire please contact:
    Dr Alice Bennion
    [email protected]