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May 5, 2004

Sign language speaks volumes for teachers

From: ic, UK - May 5, 2004

LITTLE Monika McCann and her baby brother Charlie are just like most of the happy toddlers people see charging into nursery first thing in the morning.

The only difference between three-year-old Monika, one-year-old Charlie and their friends is they are both profoundly deaf.

To some this would be an obstacle, but for the Greenhills brother and sister and the staff at Halfmerke Nursery School in East Mains it is all about communication and hard work.

The dedicated staff wanted to make sure the youngsters got the best out of nursery and decided to take sign language classes to include deaf children in the nursery activities.

Nursery teacher Joanne Lindsay is currently working to complete the level two sign language course at Langside College in Glasgow.

She said: "There are four staff members at Halfmerke enrolled in signing courses and a further three are interested in getting involved.

"We started attending night classes in our own time so we could communicate more effectively with Monika and Charlie at school.

"Being able to sign and communicate with the children means we are able to deliver the early years curriculum.

"The great thing is we are all learning together. Monika is progressing really well and she keeps us on our toes.

"The courses are very good and everyone is enjoying them. It's been a great experience for all of us.

"The other hearing children in the nursery have sign names now and have even picked up some simple sign words."

Monika and Charlie both started the nursery when they were 10 months old and love attending Halfmerke.

Monika and Charlie's dad, Brian, 39, who is also deaf and teaches sign language said: "We are really happy because it's important for Monika and Charlie to learn and read stories in a hearing environment.

"Now the nursery staff are learning sign language, the children both feel as much a part of the group as the hearing children.

"We really appreciate the nursery staff for the hard work and effort they have shown and their interest in communicating with the children.

"They are so enthusiastic and are learning to build their communication skills up along with the children.

"The staff are learning from Monika and Charlie and in turn the children are also learning from them.

"The hearing children in the nursery are also learning deaf awareness."

The four staff members currently enrolled in the sign courses are Joanne Lindsay (level two), Karen Cowan (level two), Nicola Bartlett (level one), and Frances Munro (level one). Both South Lanarkshire Council and Surestart have partly funded courses.


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