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Why all nurseries and early years settings should sign with children every day. (cert-4-£1)

Updated: May 15, 2021

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Babies develop receptive language more quickly than they develop the skills to express themselves fully. This often means that babies and young children know exactly what they want but are unable to communicate their needs – leading to frustration and behavioural outbursts commonly known as tantrums.

Babies and young children often love using their hands and we all know that children learn more quickly if they have a visual indicator. Signing builds on early communication skills such as pointing and gesture.

For practitioners, incorporating the use of signs when you speak has so many benefits for all young children, not just for those with communication difficulties but for normally developing children too.

The benefits of incorporating the use of signing within the daily routine of the setting:

· Prevents episodes of frustration – thus improving behaviour

· Allows children to express their needs and interests

· Gives children a voice

· Promotes speech development (it is recommended that you always speak when you sign)

· Empowers babies and children

· Promotes confidence and social skills

· Creates a culture of understanding and acceptance of others who do have communication difficulties

· Provides fun and enjoyable learning

Children with typical development who learn to sign have better speech development than typically developing children who do not learn to sign.

Despite popular assumptions, several studies show that using signing with young children does not hamper their speech development, on the contrary – it enhances it! (Goodwyn, Acredolo and Brown, 2000) Extensive research also shows that children who learn to sign have a larger vocabulary, better school performance, increased peripheral vision, quicker reaction times and even have increased intelligence! (Acredelo and Goodwyn, 2000) Possible reasons for this include the fact that when children remember the signs that link to words they use both the right and left hemisphere of the brain which builds connections and exercises parts of the brain in a unique way!

How could your setting begin to incorporate signing every day? Singing and story time - These are fun and easy ways to incorporate signs and children remember them because they are the actions to their much-loved songs and stories.

The routine - This provides the perfect opportunity for children and adults to use the same signs every day. Using the signs for tidy up time, outdoor play time, snack/lunch time, toilet time and home time means that children will quickly begin to pick them up and use them with confidence.

When managing feelings and reinforcing rules - Signs can help children to label their feelings and express themselves. Practitioners can use the signs for ‘sad’, ‘happy’ etc to help promote children’s emotional literacy. Signing is a really useful way to reinforce important rules and instructions such as ‘stop’, ‘wait’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Settings that use signing with children daily have reported on improved behaviour, concentration and independence. Ready to test your knowledge? Complete our free assessment below. You can view your score for free after you submit your answers. If you pass and would like to purchase an official Maybird Training printable certificate (PDF doc) for this course for £1 (admin fee), please click here after you have viewed your score. (Certificates will arrive in your inbox the next working day - only those that pass can order and receive a certificate).

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