Six Great Reasons You Should Teach Your Child to Sign.
If you are a parent of a baby or toddler (or currently pregnant) you probably have heard of “baby signing.” But why would you want to use sign language with your child? Sign Language has so many benefits, which is why it’s so great for babies and children of all ages to learn it.
It is important to consider simplified baby signing as the use of gestures rather than ‘a language’. A language would have a host of grammatical rules and expressions attached to it. Even if parents don't train their baby too use symbolic gestures, it is likely babies will naturally use them anyway. For example, pointing at something they are asking about, tugging at their sweater if they wish to take it off, etc. Understanding baby gestures can improve communication and make parents more sensitive to what their babies are thinking about. This can have profound benefits. When parents are more tuned into their baby’s thoughts and feelings, babies are more likely to develop secure attachment relationships.
There are many benefits of teaching sing language to your child. I’ve outlined 6 of them for you here;
1. Sign language provides the ability to communicate earlier than speech
You probably already know that babies and toddlers are able to understand far more than they can express. Receptive language skills, what they can understand, develop earlier than expressive language skills, or what they can say. In fact, the motor skills and auditory perceptual skills needed to articulate speech are simply not developed enough to produce words until around 10-12 months of age (give or take) and then they continue to develop for years.
2. Earlier communication can decrease tantrum behaviour
Many early tantrums in toddlers are often a result of their inability to communicate their wants and needs effectively. By giving your child the gift of sign language as an early communication tool, you may see a decrease in tantrum behaviour as he will be able to communicate to you more effectively than with speech and gesture alone. I, for one, would do anything to avoid the grocery store meltdown!
3. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s vocabulary and language skills
When you are teaching your child sign language, you will find yourself saying the name of the sign out loud many, many times as you show your child the sign. You will find yourself talking a lot about the items you are teaching. For example, when you see a dog walk by you may stop, get down at your child’s level, and say (as you are signing dog) “Johnny! Do you see the DOG? It’s a D-O-G (as you continue to sign) See the DOG? Look, DOG (as you sign again)” You will find yourself talking about things more and repeating things more than if you were not teaching your child sign. This repetition, both auditory and visually, may help to expand your child’s receptive and expressive vocabulary and language skills.
In addition to the increased verbal repetition that sign often provides, it also provides language opportunities in a tactile, kinesthetics, and visual modality. Presenting vocabulary and language in a modality other than only verbal increases the child’s ability of learning.
4. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s reading and spelling skills and even IQ.
There is research to support that hearing children who are taught sign language from an early age have better reading and spelling skills and yes, even higher IQ scores down the road.
5. Teaching sign language to your child may increase your child’s visual attention skills and joint attention skills
Using and understanding sign language requires a child to utilize his visual and joint attention skills, both of which are very important skills in both learning and social interactions. It’s also great to learn from an early age, that eye contact and attention are so important when someone is trying to communicate with you. If you extend that courtesy with them, they will be more likely to practice it themselves.
6. Teaching sign language to your child is So. Much. Fun!
Honestly? It is so much fun teaching sign language to your child. Mellow Baby uses music and puppets - what else do you need to know? The babies love it. Even if you are not as excited about the benefits and functionality of signing, it’s such a great way to have fun and try something new. But the fact that they are secretly gaining all of the benefits is win-win.