Last week I talked about the difference between American Sign Language and Baby Sign Language. The low down: I prefer teaching American Sign Language to children, because it is a well established language. However, both methods are great. Have you ever wondered what the point of teaching sign language to babies is, especially if the baby can hear just fine? There are many great reasons.
Six Benefits of Teaching Sign Language to Children
1. Create a strong emotional bond between caregiver and child through improved eye contact and increased moments for touch
2. Improved confidence and self-esteem
3. Less frustration on the child’s part and less guessing (about why the child is crying) on the parents part
4. Less tantrums due to the ability to demonstrate what is wrong/needed
5. May help boost the emergence of spoken words. Often babies who sign demonstrate first words earlier than those who don’t
6. It’s a whole lot of fun!
One of the most rewarding aspects of teaching children how to communicate with their hands is the visual aspect of it. Many kids learn much better “seeing” and “doing” rather than just listening and repeating. This goes for learning manners too. It seems to me that kids these days don’t say “please” or “thank you” without being asked. Are parents teaching their children about manners anymore? Teaching young children about manners using sign language is a great way to show them that manners matter. When teaching manners using sign language, the three basic signs I teach are “sorry”, “please” and “thank you”.
Sign for “Sorry” The sign for “sorry” is made by placing your right hand in the shape of the “s” or “a” (hand in a fist) on your chest. Then rotate your hand over your heart in a few clockwise circular motions. Watch Xander as he demonstrates the sign for “sorry”.
Sign for “Please”
The sign for “please” is made by placing your flat right hand on your chest and moving it in a clockwise motion a few times.Watch Xander as he wins my heart over with his magic “please” eyes. Most children will be able to make this sign without difficulty.
Sign for “Thank You”
To sign “thank you”, place your fingers of your dominant hand near your lips in a flat hand position. Then move your hand forward and a bit down in the direction of the person you are thanking.
Bonus: Sign for “Hurt”
I never thought to teach Xander the sign for “hurt”. Since pain is such a abstract concept, a visual signal may help a child learn how to express pain in a more effective way than crying. In turn it helps the child’s caregiver to meet their needs a lot faster. I am currently teaching Noah and Xander how to use the sign “hurt”. The sign “hurt” is made by extending the index fingers of both hands and bringing them together in a jabbing motion. The sign is done near the place of pain, so if you have a stomach ache the sign is done at your stomach. This sign may be difficult for a child to learn at first, but keep practicing it. You will be surprised how quickly kids pick up on these signs!
* Xander has been using the Singing Times Potty Time DVD/CD and watch throughout our potty training adventures. The other Singing Times videos are wonderful as well!
* Night time story reading is fun with the One Step Ahead Sign series books, including mealtime, playtime and going out.
* I am typically not a fan of teaching sign language through flash cards but the Carson-Dellosa Publishing Sign Language have fun illustrations and Xander loves any type of cards.
Do you have any experience teaching your children sign language? When did you start? What signs do they know?