Communication is at the heart of cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral development in children -- which is why it’s important that babies and children learn American Sign Language, and is why we teach it in our schools!
Research tells us that learning sign language enables babies to communicate vital information -- such as being hungry or sleepy, reduces frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves, and increases parent-child bonding. Infants and children often have positive psychological benefits from signing, such as improved confidence, self-esteem, and reduced feelings of anger and tantrums that result from an inability to communicate.
Here are six steps to teach your child sign language!
1. First things first -- you need to learn the signs and ensure you’re signing correctly. It is also important to learn any additional tips when teaching signs. For example, a strong facial expression to enhance a sign, or specific gestures to point out to make a sign easier for your child.
2. Begin demonstrating when your baby is between six and eight months old. At this stage of development, your infant can hold your gaze for a couple of seconds.
3. Have your infant's attention before introducing a sign.
4. Start with no more than five key signs. Try signs that are easily linked to objects and basic needs like milk, sleepy, more and/or hungry.
5. Say the word using eye contact. Repeat the signs regularly to ensure consistency. Since infants learn through repetition, consistency is crucial. Maintain consistency with what sign is used, and how it is used in relation to an item..
6. Be careful to notice when your baby begins to mimic the signs, usually after two months of consistent demonstration. Once your infant begins to mimic, continue using those signs while adding additional signs.
Ready to take sign language to the classroom? Learn more about our programs and curriculum here.