Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sign Language: Not Just for the Hearing Impaired

Teaching children sign language from a young age is beneficial in many ways.  Because hand-eye coordination develops faster than verbal skills, children can effectively learn to communicate before they can talk.  This communication can be viewed as a two-way street; caregivers can be more observant and responsive when they know what the children need, and children are able to express their knowledge and feelings.
According to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, “24 month old babies using baby sign language were on average talking more like 27 or 28 month olds, representing more than a 3-month old advantage over the non-signers.  The babies using baby sign language were also putting together significantly longer sentences.” This advantage continues through the time children begin school; the studies showed these kids who had learned sign language had overall higher reading skills in elementary school than those who didn’t.

Not only do children who learn sign language gain an intellectual jump start, being able to communicate has a number of social and emotional benefits as well.  By using sign language, children learn to trust their caregivers, boost self-confidence, and build self-esteem.  Children grow emotionally because they are less frustrated if they can communicate; consequently, biting and other aggressive behaviors can be reduced this way.

-Emily Lian, Education Director
Early Childhood Education Expert

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