This part of the website has been developed as a valuable resource for all Early Years Practitioners who
are interested in using signing in their setting to enhance speech, language and communication outcomes. If you are a nanny, child
minder, nursery nurse, Children's Centre Manager or anyone else who
is involved in the care of babies and young children then read on.
How can we help?
Staff Learning and Development. TalkFirst is a UK registered learning provider (UKRLP no 10027331). We deliver innovative and lively certificated training courses to help you incorporate signing as part of daily communication within your setting.
Click here to download course information and details of possible funding.
TalkFirst training contributes to the following policy and practice areas:
- - A Unique Child
- - Positive Relationships
- - Enabling Environments
- - Learning & Development
|- Enjoy and Achieve
||Covers the majority of competences in Universal Stage of the Speech, Language and Communication Framework. For some competences, knowledge is specifically aimed around signing.
||- Welfare Requirement
- Learning and Development
|- Child Development
- Supporting Transition
I CAN Early Talk Accreditation: Implementation of skills and knowledge gained on this course together with completion
of the Course Action Plan provides 'Portfolio Evidence' towards I CAN accreditation at both Supportive and Enhanced levels.
TalkFirst is part of a larger training organisation called HearFirst. HearFirst is passionate about delivering quality sign language, deaf and disability awareness training throughout the UK. If you require deaf and disability awareness training go to www.hearfirst.org.uk.
- Classes running weekly in your setting for your children delivered by a local tutor. All tutors are trained
to deliver classes in settings in addition to classes for parents. Tutors are flexible and offer 6 week blocks, bi
weekly classes etc for groups of up to 15
children. Contact your local tutor to discuss what you need.
- 45 minute stimulating classes for all babies and young children up to 30 months.
- Each class is different over the period of 1 academic year.
- 8 new signs are introduced each week.
- Each class is themed around everyday relevant topics e.g. bath time, weather, meal times etc.
- All classes include music, instruments, songs, rhymes, puppets, props and activities which are all based around the weekly theme.
- Multi sensory approach: classes are inclusive to children/parents with disabilities and also those who do not speak
English as a first language.
Please click on a question to view the answer.
Q. What are the benefits of using signs with speech in settings?
|Benefits for baby:
||Benefits for you:
|1. Can communicate before s/he can talk.
||1. Calmer baby. Fewer tantrums and shorter tantrums.
|2. Reduces frustration at being misunderstood.
||2. Two way communication much earlier. Less draining on main carer.
|3. Can initiate conversation on topics that s/he’s thinking about.
||3. Gain insight into baby’s thoughts.
|4. Increases confidence.
||4. Increased carer and child bonding.
|5. Speeds up early language acquisition so when speech comes along the content is more advanced.
||5. Peace of mind that baby can communicate that they are sick or in pain.
|6. Keeps mind active as baby is associating words with hand shapes.
||6. Common language link in bi lingual environments.
|7. Aware of their own body, movement and actions.
||7. Encourages peer communication.
|8. On going benefits – research in USA shows 8 yr olds who signed as babies have higher IQ’s than those who didn’t.
||8. Sheer delight when baby signs their 1st sign!
Q. Are the signs British Sign Language (BSL) or Makaton?
All TalkFirst signs are taken from British Sign Language (BSL). There are regional variations in BSL and we have
chosen signs for our program which closely resemble Makaton signs. (Makaton or Signalong are sometimes used in
settings and both these signing systems have been developed for children with communication and learning
difficulties; they take signs from BSL and simplify them.)
Q. How does TalkFirst support the Early Years Foundation Stage?
The Early Years Foundation Stage has 4 main themes which each have a set of commitments. TalkFirst clearly supports 27
commitments across the themes. The benefits of using signs with speech in your setting stretch much broader than
Communication, Language and Literacy.
This is how we fit into 'A Unique Child'
Children learn to communicate in many ways…in non-verbal ways such as gestures facial expression and gaze direction.
Baby signing develops these skills. Practitioners who use signs themselves are better at recognising and responding to non verbal communication.
Language, thinking and learning are interlinked; they depend on and promote each other's development.
Baby signing helps young children establish links with meaning and words.
Encourage, listen and respond to babies’ and childrens’ communications, both non-verbal and verbal.
Practitioners who use signs themselves are better at recognising and responding to non verbal communication.
Some childrens’ development may be at risk e.g…..those from diverse linguistic backgrounds.
Baby signing benefits bi-lingual families as the sign is the common factor no matter which language is spoken.
Make sure that you actively promote equal opportunities and anti discriminatory practice, ensuring that all children and
families feel included, safe and valued.
TalkFirst baby signing has been actively developed to be multi sensory and inclusive for everyone.
Listen to what children tell you, and act on non-verbal signals from them, especially from children who are unable to voice their anxieties.
Baby signing allows you into a baby’s thoughts before they can speak.
Babies and children have emotional wellbeing when their needs are met and feelings are accepted.
Baby signing gives babies a vehicle to express themselves.
Please contact us to find out how we fit into other themes within the EYFS.
Q. Where has baby signing come from?
About 20 years ago, an American man called Dr Joseph Garcia found that babies who had deaf parents were communicating
far earlier than those with hearing parents.
He conducted a research study on hearing babies. Those exposed to regular sign language from the age of 7 months
could communicate with signs as early as the 8th month. By 18 months, signing babies were using up to 300 signs. Non
signing babies were using 30 words. Garcia knew that signing was an effective method of communicating in pre verbal
babies but the big question was 'Does it delay speech?'
Garcia found the opposite is true - he noticed that hearing children who had signed as babies had better vocabularies
and used words more effectively than non signing children of similar ages. Dr Linda Acredolo and Dr Susan Goodwyn
from the University of California have carried out over 20 years of research on the topic and their findings are the
same. However it is important to note that the signs must always be accompanied by speech i.e. look at the child, make
the sign and speak.
Using signs with words reinforces the meaning of the word – language is given and acquired using both the
eyes and ears. Signing babies learn to use language sooner. When speech organs are developed the use of signs
drops off and the content of speech is more sophisticated.
Further research has gone on to show that, by 8 years old, children who had signed as babies had an average
12 point higher IQ than those who hadn't.
Most of the research to date is American; however there are many many stories of parents in the UK who have successfully
signed with their babies. Click here to read stories from TalkFirst parents.
Click here to go to the main TalkFirst website for more Frequently Asked
Questions. (The ones above are particularly for Practitioners.)