As educators continue to learn more about disabilities, schools are becoming more active in teaching young children about those with special needs. In the past year, The Growing Tree Nursery School and The Growing Tree North have piloted an American Sign Language program that is designed to teach 3- and 4-year-olds how to sign. Once a week throughout the school year, a specialist visits both of these locations to teach children sign language. The kids learn how to express the words for animals and colors with their hands, in addition to learning basic words and phrases such as “hello” and “I love you.” After they master the basics, they learn how to sign nursery songs—a beautiful way to end the school year and show awareness for the deaf.
The Growing Tree Nursery and The Growing Tree North focus on knowing every child and on creating a “warm, nurturing family-centered environment.” In addition to learning sign language, the children also learn about other disabilities, such as blindness, throughout the course of the year. Dawn Friedman, the managing director at Growing Tree, says, “It’s our job to open up the children’s minds.”