The Benefits of Signing with Young Children
Our curriculum incorporates American Sign Language into all of our classrooms.
We know that children build confidence as they increase their ability to communicate in signs. This leads to a greater confidence in oral communication as well. And, as in learning any language, it fosters a greater understanding and appreciation for the culture of that language.
Signing is a kinetic act that stimulates activity in both the right brain, which is responsible for visual-spatial reasoning and long-term memory, and the left brain, which is responsible for processing language.
When we sign with hearing children, we not only reinforce their existing language by speaking the word while signing, we give them another way to express a concept they already know, thus creating another connection to that information in their brain.
Children learn to communicate physically long before they can verbalize. Consequently, infants can express their needs in sign before speech. Parents already teach babies gestures such as waves, hugs and pointing. The use of signs is so natural, and it reduces the child’s frustration because his needs are understood more easily and therefore met more quickly.
As children get older, signing may be used in conjunction with the spoken word to emphasize a point, or the sign alone to give a private message that does not intrude on the group.
As a guidance technique, it is extremely useful in a hearing classroom or other busy group. The adult can sign a message to “come here,” “please stop,” “do you want to eat,” etc, without disrupting others. It is respectful in situations in which the adult cannot go to where the child is to speak one-on-one. In these cases, using a silent sign to communicate across the room is still personal and does not draw attention to the child.
Look for the large sign-language posters in your children’s classrooms, displaying words that we most frequently use in an early childhood environment. You may also download a PDF of Stepping Stone School ASL packet we incorporate into our program.
Discover for yourself the enjoyment of learning this helpful and beautiful language.