Impact on the Widespread Use of Key Word Sign in Preschools

Conference: The Asian Conference on Education (ACE2021)
Title: Impact on the Widespread Use of Key Word Sign in Preschools
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Alison Choo, PAP Community Foundation, Singapore


Children with communication difficulties may face significant social, communication, behavioural, and mental health challenges. According to Cologon and Mevawalla (2018), Key Word Sign when implemented as a preschool-wide approach, lead to successful participation of all children, supporting individual and group engagement, and facilitating a sense of belonging. In Singapore, two early childhood preschools, teachers and students were taught Key Word Sign - Singapore (KWS) to facilitate communication with students who have social and communication difficulties. In KWS, a sentence is spoken in full, whilst signs are used simultaneously to highlight the key aspect of the message. Teachers were introduced to new signs each month by a speech and language therapist, and they in turn, incorporated the use of KWS in their lesson, and social interactions with the students. The use of KWS was encouraged in class through structured lesson, free play and daily routines, as well as through everyday communication exchanges. During the implementation, children become proactive communicators, and have many successful communication opportunities. More importantly, this eradicates social barriers and increases access and participation to children who previously struggled to have their thoughts heard. The use of signs and gesture have been known to facilitate early communication, increased vocabulary and facilitate shared communication (Dunst, Meter, and Hamby, 2011). It also provides a bridge to later oral communication, with signing decreasing as oral language increases (Galeote et al., 2011). The impact on the longer-term widespread use of KWS in a preschool by the students, teachers and parents will be shared.

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