I received an email from a lady named Emily from Primrose Schools. I was interested in what this article had to say because I used sign language with our oldest son. We did not start when he was a baby but when he was about 18 months-2 years old. The thought crossed our mind when both, my husband and I, were getting frustrated with not being able to communicate with him. I don’t remember how we came up with these or if someone suggested it to us, but I do remember looking online for what sign meant what. We didn’t use many just the basics that we thought we needed to teach him in order to keep everyone sane! We used more, all done, eat, drink, & thank you. For us, those were the ones that we really needed and it worked for us. I know that we have tried with our 3 other children but for whatever reason they just weren’t interested in doing that.
(I found these pictures from Google)
This is the article that was sent to me from Emily. I have not altered the article in anyway.
Early Childhood Education – Acquiring Sign Language
One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility – and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled – primarily the deaf.
At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities – and if current trends continue, it’s likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.
Signing Before They Can Speak
A great deal of research has clearly demonstrated that the early years – ages 2 to five – are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.
This is not as odd as you may think. As you know, many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals – who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words – depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:
“…by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves before they know how to talk.” (Glarion, 2003)
The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that “using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration…[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music” (Glarion, 2003).Not only does early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, it can also strengthen the parent-child bond – in addition to giving children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future. The evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk – and the implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.
Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen ThomasEmily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Texas educational child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose educational child care schools. Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.
The Best Time To Start
I hope that if you have small children & you are having a hard time communicating with him/her, please try learning some signs and teaching them to your child. It may take awhile for them to understand and start to use the signs but I have to say that it will be very worth it!
I would also love to hear from you parents that have used sign language with your children & how it worked and/or didn’t work. Thanks!
*I received this article at no charge to me & all opinions expressed are my own*