Sign here…

Our kindergartens are spaces where there is room for everyone. Kidsfirst Belfast were presented with a Highly Commended at our 2023 Values Awards for the work they’ve been doing in creating space for tamariki who are  Deaf or Hard of Hearing, as they incorporate New Zealand Sign Language into their day-to-day interactions.

While learning is always at the forefront of every kindergarten day, the team at Kidsfirst Belfast wanted to make sure tamariki had fun using NZS, making it something they looked forward to.

By incorporating NZSL into day-to-day interactions, the children have had the opportunity to acknowledge and communicate their emotions through sign language, as well as how to use NZSL in their karakia and mihi.

The learning continues away from kindy, too, with many whānau members coming back to say how proud they were of their child’s ability to use sign language. One family expressed how amazed they were that their daughter had learned to sign “Tonga”, furthering the connection between kindergarten, home, and extended whānau.

Supporting tamariki in their own communication hasn’t been the only benefit, and there is an increased awareness across the kindergarten of those tamariki with additional learning needs. Whānau of tamariki who only use sign to communicate at home have said that the incorporation of NZSL allows their child to feel seen, and understand that different forms of communicating are not only recognised but accepted in the wider world.

Involving whānau every step of the way, the kindergarten documented their responses to questions about using NZSL at kindergarten.

94% of responses reported their child talking about or using NZSL at home, and 100% of respondents said it is important for their child to have an awareness of NZSL.

The mahi the kaiako have put into this can be seen  throughout their day-to-day interactions with tamariki, be it in newsletters to their community, welcome videos for new tamariki, or in interactions between kaiako and tamariki.

The kaiako and tamariki signing at Kidsfirst Belfast in 2021.

The benefits of this are wide-reaching, as tamariki now arrive at the start of their kindergarten day confident they will be able to express themselves to their kaiako, through the use of developed visual or oral communication. Some methods employed include ‘core boards’ which act as a visual communication tool kaiako can wear at all times for tamariki to indicate emotions, or ask questions.

Working alongside the Ministry of Education’s Speech and Language Therapists, kaiako and tamariki have thrived amongst the development and implementation of these ways of communicating, and the feedback they have received from whānau and their community has been resounding.

This area of accessibility and being inclusive of all tamariki, whatever challenges might exist in communicating with them, was one of the themes of the 2023 Me Ako Tonu professional learning hui that Kidsfirst organises for kaiako.

It is so reassuring to see such practices being carried out within the kindergarten day on a sustained basis – reinforcing that everyone is truly welcome.

Every year Kidsfirst Kindergartens celebrate the individuals, kindergartens and teaching teams who have showcased our values in their mahi, with their generosity, hard work and enthusiasm for what we stand for and believe in.

Arrange a time to come in and see our kindergarten for yourself, get to meet our kaiako and see the kindy for yourself.
Get in touch if you have any questions or want to know more. We’re here and always happy to give you the answers you need.