NZSL at Early Childhood Education
Raising public awareness of NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language) begins with teaching NZSL to the young kiwi generation as early as possible,
and both Deaf and hearing children benefit from learning NZSL in early childhood education.
Increasing interest among younger generation kiwi parents has motivated several early childhood education centres (ECE) to offer some NZSL.
Ministry of Education (MoE) statistics demonstrate a steady increase in NZSL for ECE children aged four and under. Official figures show Samoan, NZSL and Chinese are the most used languages after English and Māori. Approximately 320 out of 4300 ECE services in 2015 reportedly offer some NZSL (Education Counts, Early Childhood Education Data summary report 2015).
ECE’s are also motivated by the benefits of learning NZSL for both Deaf and hearing children. Children exposed to a visual, expressive and enjoyable sign language have improved intelligence, literacy and self-esteem (Acredolo & Goodwyn, 2000).
Benefits of learning NZSL
Many researchers say children and staff immerging Sign Language in early childhood centres offers many advantages by:
creating a bilingual, trilingual or multilingual environment
having a diversity and cultural enrichment
exploring a new experience using hands, facial expressions and body language instead of using 'traditional' speech language
children are associated with positive parental attitudes
both children and staff improved behaviour, attitudes and knowledge about how to communicate with other Deaf children
increasing an understanding and awareness about the Deaf community when interacting with Deaf people at some stage in their lives.
"The best of all, every kiwi will have an opportunity of appreciation knowing some or lots of NZSL, its one of our three official languages of New Zealand."
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Sign Up poster here
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ECE centre here
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