How Signs relate to the National Quality Standards (NQS)

The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care came into effect in January 2012.  It aims to raise the quality of and drive continuous improvement and consistency in education, care services and school age care.

The Framework includes the National Quality Standards (NQS) against which service providers such as Childcare Centres are assessed.  After reflecting on the standards, I think signing can assist childcare services meet and exceed these quality standards, allowing them to be leaders in their fields.  Signing empowers babies to express their interests and needs; allows carers to follow the child’s learning journey; promotes communication; and fosters a caring and optimal learning environment for the children.

I have outlined below my thoughts on how signing relates to each of the standards.  Please get in touch if you think that your child will benefit from having Baby Signs® introduced into his/her childcare setting.

Childcare services which are committed to providing a stimulating learning environment for babies and young toddlers can contact Baby Signs® Canberra to explore options for incorporating tailor made signing sessions into the curriculum.

QA Quality Area How signing may contribute
1 Educational Program and Practice
1.1 An Approved learning framework informs the development of a curriculum that enhances each child’s learning and development
  • Signing accelerates babies and toddlers’ language development through simultaneously presenting words and concepts visually, kinaesthetically and orally (Daniels, 2001)
1.1.1 Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relations to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators
  • Signing empowers babies and toddlers to communicate their understanding of the world/community.  This understanding when understood and acknowledged by carers gives children the confidence to further investigate ideas, concepts and thinking.
  • Through signs, babies and toddlers can readily convey and construct messages with purpose and confidence.  Signing will support and promote babies’ and toddlers’ early attempts to initiate interactions and conversations.
  • Signing enables children to indicate their specific needs before they can talk which allows carers to acknowledge and respond to their cues and signals more efficiently and effectively, making a direct positive contribution to the wellbeing of the babies and toddlers allowing them to develop greater confidence and self-esteem.
1.1.3 The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning
  • Signing provides opportunities for children to learn and show their understanding of routines as well as conveying their interests, allowing staff to incorporate these interests in their programming.
  • Signing allows babies and toddlers to express their choices and what they know, more explicitly and clearly.  In doing so, it encourages children to become active participants and decision makers, helping carers move beyond preconceived expectations about what children can do and learn.  This will also contribute to the learning of other babies and toddlers.


1.1.6 Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and influence events and their world
5 Relationships with Children
5.1 Respectful and equitable relationships are developed and maintained with each child
  • Carers interacting with children verbally, supported by signs, will help babies and toddlers who have not yet mastered verbal communication to grow close and secure relationships with the carers as children can be an equal partner in the conversation.  Signs along with the use of both verbal and non-verbal cues can help carers respond to the children’s needs expediently, fostering trusting relationships.
  • It is a huge boost to the children’s confidence when their efforts to communicate are rewarded by being understood.
5.1.1 Interactions with each child are warm, responsive and building trusting relationships
5.1.2 Every child is able to engage with educators in meaningful, open interactions that support the acquisition of skills for life and learning
  • Signing will enable children to start having meaningful conversations with the carers earlier than spoken language.  Babies and toddlers will learn to take turns when communicating using signs.  Being equal partners when interacting with one another will convey to babies and toddlers that they are valued and capable individuals.
5.1.3 Each child is supported to feel secure, confident and included
  • Research evidence shows that signing accelerates babies and toddlers’ development process to spoken language.  Being able to communicate effectively at an early age will give babies and toddlers confidence in speaking which raises their self-esteem which is critical to children’s capacity to develop a positive image about their abilities, interests and personal future (Daniels, 2001; Acredolo & Goodwyn, 2000).
  • By attending classes with the babies, carers will be able to further support babies in their personal and language development.
5.2 Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships with other children and adults
  • More responsive and sensitive relationships can be built amongst carers, and other babies and toddlers if signing is incorporated into the program at a childcare setting as it enhances everyone’s ability to communicate when verbal communication is limited.
  • The benefits of incorporating signing as part of babies and toddlers’ early childhood education, including the reduction of frustration expressed by babies and carers alike is well documented by sound evidence.
5.2.1 Each child is supported to work with, learn from and help others through collaborative learning opportunities
  • Collaborative learning opportunities results when babies, toddlers and carers attend signing classes, practice and use the signs consistently and when signing is embraced as part of the curriculum.
5.2.2 Each child is supported to manage their own behaviour, respond appropriately to the behaviours of others and communicate effectively to resolve conflicts
  • Signing enables children to express/communicate their own and other’s emotions before they can talk.  This helps children to understand their own feelings and develop empathy with others.  This may on the one hand help them to resolve conflicts (being able to understand what other children desire through signs) and on the other hand reduce the amount of conflicts which may occur.
5.2.3 The dignity and rights of every child are maintained at all times
  • Children’s self-esteem is promoted when they are able to communicate with others effectively and in a meaningful manner.  Babies and toddlers can be proud of their achievement when they are able to communicate with others through signs.
6 Collaborative partnerships with families and communities
6.1 Respectful and supportive relationships with families are developed and maintained
  • Signing can be a tool for fostering these supportive relationships with families when they can feel connected with and see the seamless transition between their children’s learning in the childcare setting and at home.  Families can be part of their children’s learning journey when they are provided with information sheets regarding the signs that the children have learnt each week.  This enables families’ understanding the themes which the babies and toddlers have learnt and for the parents to talk about/use/reinforce them at home.
6.1.2 Families have opportunities to be involved in the service and contribute to service decisions
  • Signing provides opportunities for families and carers alike to share information about the children’s progress, interests and experience.
6.1.3 Current information about the service is available to families
  • In line with this standard, families are informed about the signs which the children have been learning so the signs can be incorporated into home life and for delightful, meaningful conversations to start at home.
6.2 Families are supported in their parenting role and their values and beliefs about child rearing are respected
  • The baby signs program is one that works in partnership with parents and service providers.  Signing contributes positively to babies and toddlers’ development and can be continued at home.  Signing is also a wonderful tool/resource that service providers can introduce to support parents (or extended family) in their role as being part of the children’s support network and to enrich their home life.  As discussed earlier, signing can significantly reduce the amount of frustration which may have derived from carers and babies not being able to communicate with one another.  From the baby’s or toddler’s perspective, this frustration often presents itself as tantrums.
6.2.1 The expertise of families are recognised and they share in decision making about their child’s learning and well-being
  • As with other development insights that parents can offer carers and vice versa, updates on children’s progress/achievements in signing may encourage communications between carers at the childcare centre and parents, allowing parents to partake in decision making regarding their children’s learning and well-being.
6.2.2 Current information is available to families about community services and resources to support parenting and family wellbeing
  • Information sheets/resources regarding baby signs and signs that the children have learnt will be available to support parents.
6.3 The service collaborates with other organisations and service providers to enhance children’s learning and well-being
  • By collaboration with Baby Signs®, the childcare centre is offering children and their families an enhanced learning experience by unlocking the language development potential of all babies and toddlers which studies have also found to be linked with their emotional development.
6.3.1 Links with relevant community and support agencies are established and maintained
  • Being an organisation which has the goal of enriching and enhancing children’s developmental opportunities, the childcare centre will be establishing links with one of many support/community organisations if a collaboration is established with Baby Signs®.
6.3.2 Continuity of learning and transitions for each child are supported by sharing relevant information and clarifying responsibilities
  • Information sheets provided by the Baby Signs® program and carer’s communications with parents regarding the development of each baby and toddler at the childcare centre will ensure that children have successful transitions between settings and that they feel secure and confident regarding the use of signing to help them with speaking.


Acredolo, L. P., & Goodwyn, S.W. (July 2000). The long-term impact of symbolic gesturing during infancy on IQ at age 8. Paper presented at the meetings of the International Society for Infant Studies, Brighton, UK.

Daniels, M. (2001)  Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children’s Literacy. Westport, Connecticut.

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