I love sign language; I love using sign language with kiddos. This is not surprising since I am a speech therapist (how awesome is it that I can say that now?!). It is awesome seeing young ones use sign to help avoid frustration when trying to communicate what they want/need but do not yet have the verbal language to express it. I'm not saying you have to teach your child how to "speak" through American Sign Language (although, that would be really awesome), but I do recommend teaching some basic signs (such as "more," "all done," "please," "thank you," etc). I do not know how to "speak" with sign language; I know lots of basic signs and continue learning more. Eventually, I will take some sign language courses, probably at TCC, because that would open so many doors with working with the hearing impaired and hard of hearing.
Anyways... the reason I am posting this is because of an article in July's issue of Parenting Magazine. The article is titled "Your Baby's Got Talent!" on page 121. In it, it expresses the benefits of teaching sign language. Those benefits include:
-Helps children pick up any language more easily later in life, due to the pathways created in the brain.
-Tend to learn to talk earlier
-Score higher on intelligence tests
-Develop a larger vocabulary
-Display more self-confidence
-Engage in more sophisticated play compared to non-signing peers
The article recommends starting with "eat," "more," "sleep," "wet," and "drink".
Always say the word when you sign it, or the child isn't going to learn the verbal vocabulary that goes with it. When starting with a new sign, face your child when you use and say it. You can even sit behind them afterward and model it with their hands. You will be amazed at how fast your child can pick up on a sign. But, like anything, if you barely use it, your child is going to barely use it, if at all. And I promise, sign language does NOT hinder expressive language. If you have used sign language and your child is diagnosed delayed in expressive language it was NOT because you used sign language. In fact, it is a great thing you used sign language with them if they have an expressive delay because they would really have no means of communication without those signs.
I'll put a plug in here for Baby Signing Time.. it's a good video to invest in. Nope, not getting paid to say that; in fact, I don't own a copy (yet). My good friend Kelly has ordered me a copy for Hunter. You should see Emma sign; she has taught me signs I didn't know that she has learned from that video. I'll also put a plug in for The Little Gym... we do sign language with our program. :] Maybe another reason I LOVE that place?
So that's me on my soap box. I'll be stepping off now. I only have one picture of a child signing, and it is Emma signing "please". My sister has used sign with your little ones, but unfortunately, I do not have a pictures. I can't wait for Hunter to express himself with his hands. :]