International Day of Sign Language takes place each year on September 23, reminding us all of the power of sign language.
This is a day to celebrate and raise awareness of signing, and to take note of the importance of sign languages in society. Not only does sign language have enormous significance in deaf communities, but it also plays a meaningful role for children and educators in early childhood education, and people with living communication and behavioural disorders. Read on to learn more and to download our free Auslan flashcards for children!
What is sign language?
Sign language is a visual and gestural mode of communication that uses handshapes, facial expressions, and body movements to convey meaning. While sign language can transcend communication beyond the spoken word, it’s worth noting that there are different types of sign languages across the world. American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), and Auslan (Australian Sign Language) are just a few examples.
Sign languages provide a crucial means of communication for deaf individuals, but their benefits extend far beyond, and can be an incredible tool in early childhood education.
Fostering inclusivity and enhancing communication in ECEC
In early childhood education, inclusivity is paramount. Sign language can help educators to create an inclusive environment where every child can thrive. Here’s how:
Breaking down communication barriers: It’s not uncommon for children to have difficulty expressing themselves verbally at a young age. Sign language offers an alternative means of communication, allowing children to convey their needs, thoughts, and feelings effectively.
Enhancing cognitive development: Learning sign language can boost cognitive development in children. It stimulates their visual and motor skills, fostering early brain development.
Promoting social interaction: Sign language encourages social interaction among children. It empowers them to connect with their peers, regardless of linguistic or hearing differences.
Tips for incorporating sign language in early childhood education
As an educator, you can you use sign language to elevate the inclusivity of your service while also providing children with additional ways to communicate and express themselves. Here’s a few tips to get started with Auslan:
Start early: The earlier you can introduce sign language for children, the better. Babies as young as six months can begin to learn basic signs for essentials like ‘milk’ and ‘more’.
Consistency is key: Be consistent in using signs alongside speech. Repetition helps children remember and integrate signs into their communication naturally.
Use visual aids: Visual aids such as Auslan flashcards with images and corresponding signs can be immensely helpful in teaching sign language. (We’ve even created a free download of Auslan flashcards for you!)
Make it fun: Incorporate sign language into games and songs. Children learn best when they are having fun. If you haven’t heard of Emma Memma yet, this is Emma Watkins’ (better known as Emma Wiggle) newest character who uses Auslan, dance, gesture and mime alongside singing, speaking and craft to engage children in a range of stories. A great opportunity for children to learn while having a great time.
BONUS: Free Auslan flashcards
Submit the form to download your free Auslan flashcards.
To help you be inspired by International Day of Sign Language, we’ve created a set of free Auslan flashcards to download. These flashcards can be printed to use in your service, incorporating into your program. You might even like to share them with families for children to further their sign language journey at home. Learn more about our early childhood courses here.
Sign language is a powerful tool for creating inclusive learning environments and enhancing communication skills for children in early childhood education. As we celebrate International Day of Sign Language, let’s empower children and nurture Auslan to allow for more means of self-expression and communicating.