Thursday, January 09, 2014

Sign Language & Language Development

How will sign language effect our child's language development?

Language is Symbolic

When you sign with your baby, your little one will learn that her thoughts can be shared in a symbolic way. For example, a baby may think "All I have to do is pat my leg and my parents will understand that I’m talking about the dog across the street!"

Play with Language

When a child starts learning a language…any language…they will make mistakes, e.g., calling a “cow” a “dog”. When these mistakes are made it creates opportunities for caregivers to correct the mistakes and teach new words.  My daughter mistakenly signed “ball” when she saw an orange when she was 11 months old. I saw that she had made a mistake, let her try the orange and showed her the sign for “orange”. When children can sign before they can speak, they can make language mistakes earlier and learn many more words earlier as well!

Influencing their World

When a child can sign to communicate they also learn earlier that language can be used to influence others. "I can get mom to put more blueberries on my plate if I sign MORE." Sign language will let your child begin to understand and play with the basic functions of language at a very early age.

When we posed this topic on our Facebook page, WeeHands Instructor Valinda Vincent shared, “My daughter understands more words than her non signing friends. She is able to communicate her needs without having to cry, whine and tantrum. Her overall interest in language is heightened!

Sara Bingham is the founder of WeeHands, the world's leading children's sign language and language development program for babies, toddlers and preschool children. She is the mother of two and a frequent contributor to parenting magazines and baby-related professional websites.

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