Sign language has been introduced at the British School of Amsterdam, in the Nursery and Reception departments. This was mainly the result of an enthusiastic staff training day on the clearly hot topic of introducing signing in schools. This so inspired members of staff that a request was made to the senior management for basic signing to be an early years objective-this was willingly agreed to.
A team of nursery and reception teachers and assistants was quickly assembled, and, further to this initial meeting, several more, where a strategy was established, with workshops organized on the subject of implementing ‘Signing across the Curriculum’.
Firstly, all the children are introduced to the sign of the week, through an assembly. This weekly sign is then forwarded to parents and families, with encouragement provided by attractive displays, clearly visible in all classrooms, and in the foyer. The signs were chosen to support young children in communicating in a school setting, with the order and type of word introduced chosen- ‘hello’ was a no-brainer!
Secondly, the school created signing word ‘fans’, for staff and teachers to use; a visual image was matched to a particular child’s needs, then forwarded to the parents and families for reinforcement in the home environment.
Personally, I have found that introducing signing into an early years setting has been beneficial; the young children have eagerly adapted to this and are very enthusiastic. Recently, while helping Nursery children to prepare for home time, I asked if anyone needed help. One child ran up to me and used the sign for ‘help’, while reprimanding me with a sharp “Mrs Goulding,”. This lovely experience has helped me in terms of both professional development and consistency of provision, reminding me of our whole school initiative and encouraging me to use my sign language; a four year old child, through the medium of signing, had taught me an important lesson; a valuable sign indeed!
Honorary Vice-President of SpecialKidz International