Key Word Signing

Key Word Signing
Gayle van den Berg

You may have noticed that our Early Years team move their hands in certain ways when they are speaking with your children. This is because they are using specific, consistent movements and gestures - otherwise known as Key Word Signing (KWS).

KWS has been used in Lion Cubs for many years, and you may have seen the music performances from our Pre Prep students who have been learning signing and singing. Now, KWS is being used across all of Early Years. But what is it?

KWS is sign-supported speech - that means we use our hands to sign important words at the same time as we speak. 

But wait - won’t that stop my child from speaking? 

The short answer is - no! This is something I am always asked when talking about KWS. Many studies show KWS can actually help speech and language development in students of all ages and abilities, and in children learning other languages.

KWS helps with attention and language skills because it adds information to speech.
 
Children can see our hands as well as hear the words, which helps with remembering what the words mean. The same sign can be used in all of the child’s languages, which is useful for our English as an additional language learners - for example, ‘mummy’ would be signed the same way in both English and Thai. 

Our children can use KWS themselves as they learn to speak, which can make it easier for us to understand them. This can reduce upset and frustration for the child, as KWS helps to give them their voice. As their speech skills improve, children will naturally sign less.
 
So, now you know what it is, look out for our teachers using KWS in their videos and Zooms - and if you like, why not have a go yourself! 

Amy Woolaston
(Speech and Language Therapist)

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