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How to use signing to support communication

Man using sign language with a child
  • Date published:

  • Author: oliverkyle

Some children need extra help when learning to communicate. Signing can be a useful tool to support children with their understanding and with getting their message across.

We often use body language, facial expression and gestures when we talk, as these add meaning to what we are saying. Signs are easy to learn as many of them look like these natural gestures. Signs are special movements that we make with our hands, and each sign stands for a word.

Research has shown that signing does not stop children from talking, in fact children who are exposed to signs or learn to use signs find it easier to learn words.

Signs can help your child:

  • Say more words
  • Experience successful communication
  • Pay attention and listen when you are talking to them
  • Understand what adults are saying by giving them extra clues

Signs can help you:

  • Understand what your child means when they do not have the words to say what they want
  • Understand what your child means when their words are unclear

A system of signs is used rather than children’s own gestures as this helps everyone to share and understand the meaning of the signs.

Signs are often used in schools and nurseries. You will also see signs being used on TV programmes like ‘Something Special’, on CBeebies.

It can be hard to know where to start with signing.

Below you can view a series of videos which demonstrate how signing can be used as you play with your child and as you go about your day.

An introduction to signing and who it is for

Signing during play

Signing during snack time

Signing whilst singing

Signing whilst giving instructions

Useful links