In this country increasing numbers of children are entering nursery with little or no spoken language. Such deprivation puts them at serious, maybe even lifelong, disadvantage. Children need words to communicate and for social interaction. They need words for literacy. The early years are critical.
I am the parent of two deaf daughters who, for the past 15 years, has trained early years practitioners, teachers and parents to use sign language alongside speech with young children. Widespread practice in 22 education boroughs has convinced me that we have at our fingertips, a solution to all young children acquiring reading, writing and spelling skills simply and easily.
Children learn quicker and retain learning longer if they have a visual ‘clue’ to the meaning of words, either written or spoken. More importantly, they love using their hands. Signing and fingerspelling is ‘language in action’. Children physically participate in learning.
If we understand the way children learn at all, it makes total sense. We even use our hands, some more expansively than others, when in a foreign country to make ourselves understood. We use gestures for basic interaction: “where, money, two, left, right, car, eat, drink etc.,”
Think how wonderful signing key words in spoken sentences is to the struggling child with English an additional language, the dyslexic child, the autistic child, the hearing impaired child, the speech impaired child, the child lacking confidence and low self esteem.
Through training child-care professionals and parents on our QCF accredited distance learning courses, we’ve had phenomenal successes with all children but most noticeably those with speech and language problems or behaviour issues. Children who found success instead of failure.
An additional benefit is evidenced by in depth research on our multi-sensory methodology. One study showed children’s spelling ages increased over 6 months in 6 weeks. Another test result showed children’s phonic knowledge increased by 76% compared to 20% with the non-signing comparison.
I’m not asking Michael Gove to recommend my Signs for Success programme but to realise that he is missing a ‘raising of attainment’ trick. Sign Supported English is not owned by anyone, it’s freely available to all.
All Michael has to do is to make Sign Supported English a mandatory part of the early years curriculum and raise children's language and literacy levels.
With signing children are more engaged, they concentrate longer and they learn effortlessly because they understand. Moreover, Sign Supported English is totally inclusive. It empowers all children. Our nurseries and our schools have multi-lingual children and a wide range of children with specific language needs. Communication is key throughout.
Some of the best ideas throughout history have been “borrowed”. Sign Supported English is used by the Deaf Community as a means of communication with hearing people and a way of learning English. How inspiring that others can participate in this lifelong skill and dissolve communication barriers.
Sign Supported English is spoken English supported by the signing of key words.
Through research and evaluation, I know that Parents are a 100% supportive of their children being exposed to signing in the curriculum as are early years practitioners, teachers, local authorities and children’s organisations.
To make your voice heard, please sign this petition and forward to friends and colleagues to also sign. Collectively, we can make a difference to children’s literacy attainment. Michael Gove, please make Sign Supported English a mandatory part of the Early Years Curriculum.