Mindful hands, gestures as language: Listening to children

Nyland, B, Ferris, A and Dunn, L 2008, 'Mindful hands, gestures as language: Listening to children', Early years, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 73-80.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Mindful hands, gestures as language: Listening to children
Author(s) Nyland, B
Ferris, A
Dunn, L
Year 2008
Journal name Early years
Volume number 28
Issue number 1
Start page 73
End page 80
Total pages 8
Publisher Routledge
Abstract This paper explores ideas of language as a cognitive tool and the role of gesture in expressing children's interests and levels of knowledge. The context is a group of three-year-old children who participate in a weekly music session with a trained musician. The authors present drawings from photographs of children's hands and interpret them, using contextual information, to explain how the positioning of the children's hands reflects their internalized understandings and can be viewed as a rich symbolic language. A discussion of the early childhood curriculum and the use of finger plays has been included to suggest that gesture was initially viewed as part of 'the whole child' but, today, activities like finger plays have become ritualized exercises. It is suggested that if adults do not listen to the language of hands they are depriving themselves of a valuable window into children's thinking and learning.
Subject Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori)
Keyword(s) Language
cognition
gesture
music
three-year-old children
DOI - identifier 10.1080/09575140701846552
Copyright notice 2008 Routledge
ISSN 0957-5146
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