AUSLAN for Babies and Toddlers
What is AUSLAN? AUSLAN is short for Australian Sign Language. It is a visual form of communication using movements of the hands, arms and body to convey meaning. AUSLAN involves the following:
38 hand shapes with 28 variants
The orientation of the palm and hand in relation to the body
The location of the sign in relation to different parts of the body
The size of the movement of the head, arms and hands to suggest different words
The use of the head and facial expressions to help convey emotion and provide emphasis
AUSLAN at Leopold ELC
Miss Steph and Miss Zoe introduced AUSLAN to the Junior Kinder children when we first opened in September 2019. They deliver the AUSLAN session in a way that incorporates the children’s interests and is in the context of their local community. Children are encouraged to learn through exploration, problem-solving and play in sign language that is aligned with the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework. Overtime, the children have been able to develop their new AUSLAN skills and can now use signs during daily conversations, or when they are not feeling confident to verbally express their feelings or needs. They also love to share these with their families at home. To see AUSLAN in action here at Leopold ELC headover to our Facebook page where we have uploaded a few videos.
So why is using AUSLAN relevant to parents and caregivers of pre-verbal children? Research has shown that sign language can help children communicate their needs before their verbal language skills have developed. Some of the benefits of this include:
Providing your baby or toddler with a sense of empowerment as they will be able to communicate with those around them before they can speak
Reduced frustration for both you and your child as they have a way to communicate their needs or wants
An enriched bond between you and your child as you can respond to each other in turn
Providing insight into your child as they can communicate their interests to you
The use of sign language can also enhance a child’s education and personal development, increase their memory retention and motion processing, stimulate brain development and mental flexibility and increase overall enjoyment in communication.
Where can you find AUSLAN resources? The website Australian BabyHands provides many wonderful resources for those interested in getting started with AUSLAN for children. Here is a video from them containing 6 common signs to get you started.
Scope Australia has a great collection of well know nursery rhymes using relevant signs available as free downloads. You can access them here.
The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children also has a fantastic collection of resources including clear pictures of AUSLAN handshapes. Check out their resources here.
The AUSLAN Signbank is a comprehensive resource with a dictionary enabling you to search for a word and find a video of the corresponding sign. It also provides many links to help you find a course that may be appropriate for you should you wish to pursue it further.
As you can see, there are a great many resources available. The main thing to remember is to have fun with your little one!
www.npd.org.au : Fact Sheet: AUSLAN: What You Need To Know
www.auslan.org.au AUSLAN Signbank: A Language Resources site for AUSLAN.