Language Lessons - Using Baby Signing

by Jennifer Murray
(Dallas, TX USA)

We have always been big on languages in our family.

My two-year-old hears English, French, and Hindi spoken to him on a regular basis.

But, having been a teacher in a Montessori school for a number of years, I knew that sign language would be the easiest way for my son to communicate with me at the earliest age.

He began signing at 11 months, and has added new signs to his (and my) vocabulary every day since.

I am amazed at how proficient he is - he has even learned and retained some signs that I have not - and imagine my surprise when I have looked them up!

One benefit I didn't expect was the early interest in sounds and words.

I was happy that his flashcards and sign DVDs had each sign's corresponding word spelled out in lower case letters, but I was unprepared for my toddler to point out, sign, and say the words "stop" and "go" in one of his books.

He can now recognize over a dozen sight words and decipher phonetic sounds from every printed letter of the alphabet - and has since he was 18 months old!

While every parent loves to think of his or her own child as a genius (I'm no exception, I admit), the teacher in me suspects that this kind of ability is present in every child.

What else can ASL accomplish, and wouldn't it be phenomenal if baby signs could help put our budding readers ahead of the game more often?

Food for thought...

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