Baby Sign Language Programs that advocate the use of American Sign Language (ASL) offer benefits over other programs. The use of ASL as a standardized sign language allows for more consistency. While some regional variations occur, just as in the different pronunciation of words in different parts of the country, ASL is consistent across North America. As more daycare and early childhood educators include ASL in their curriculum, the signs remain familiar to children.
ASL is easy to learn. Our goal is not necessarily to make young children bilingual, but to enhance their communication skills by incorporating 20 to 50, or more, signs into their routines. It only takes a few moments for adults to learn the first few signs. Simple signs used with short verbal phrases is how it all begins. Many of the signs are very simple to understand. Much of ASL is iconic. The sign looks like the concept it represents. “Eat” looks like putting food in your mouth.
Easy accessibility is another benefit of using a standardized language. Once you move past the signs taught to you in class, or if you want to learn a special sign for an outing, you just need to look in an ASL dictionary or ask a knowledgeable person.
Research shows that by using ASL we boost vocabulary and literacy because we add a kinesthetic, or movement, component to learning. By adding the movement, we also reinforce fine motor skills. Fine motor skills are enhanced as young children use both arms and hands together at the middle of the body. This helps both sides of the brain to work together. Finally, we are laying the foundation for second language learning.
ASL is the third most used language in the United States, behind English and Spanish. It is the fourth most used in North America, French is third when you include Canada.
Benefits of Using Baby Sign Language
The use of sign language with young children holds many benefits, some obvious, some subtle, some immediate, some long term.
Whatever your motivation for using baby sign language with your child, you will all benefit in some way.
Signing allows children to communicate earlier than non-signing peers, giving an insight into their minds and eliminating much of the guessing in daily care
Signing reduces frustration for children and caregivers
Signing increases verbal language development... Children who sign have larger vocabularies and tend to talk sooner
Signing builds on children’s natural tendency to gesture
Signing adds a visual and kinesthetic, movement, component to learning
Signing is believed to increase self-esteem, self-confidence and social skills
Signing is also believed to improve learning, reading, spelling and may even increase IQ
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