Is Sign Language Important?

I’m a big believer in that EVERY child should know two languages! I don’t, even though my grandmother and mother speak Spanish! I’ve been trying to get them to teach Mason but that hasn’t been working very well!  

I can’t teach Mason Spanish like I want too but one thing I can do is teach him Sign Language! It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and now that he’s 7 months I think it’s the perfect time, although I do wish that I would have started him a little earlier.   Sign Language is so important to know and just like knowing Spanish, or French can help get you a job so can learning Sign Language!

Emily and Kathleen from Zionsville Educational Child Care put together this great article that I wanted to share with you guys, I thought it was really interesting especially since I majored in Communication Studies in college!  

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).
The Best Time To Start
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 Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the Zionsville educational child care facility, a member of the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose Schools (located in 16 states throughout the U.S.) and part of the network of Indiana educational child care preschools delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum.
Personally, I think learning Sign Language IS important and that it offers so many great benefits! As the article states research has suggested that Sign Language is innate and I completely agree with that. It’s natural to use your hands to communicate or empathize the spoken word. Children do it all the time. Mason throws his hands up in the air when he gets excited, not only is it adorable but it helps me understand what he’s saying! And when he needs me well you can bet he reaches out to me. He doesn’t have to say a word for me to know what he wants! I’m sure all you mommies can understand that feeling! 
Do/Did you teach your kids Sign Language? Do YOU know sign language?

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  1. Jenny says

    We did sign language with both of my kiddies. C is no 3 and still signs–even though he can talk really well. When he says "thank you," he also does the sign. H is 18 months and is still learning–we started both of them at the same time (around 6 months), but it was so much easier to really teach C (I didn't have H running around!) We used Baby Einstein flashcards and the Baby Einstein video "My First Signs." I try to use them with H every time we talk to her–milk, thank you, please, want, more, etc. I think it's great and that you should def teach your little one! It's a great way for him to communicate with you before he can actually talk! Good luck!

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