Say It In Sign Language

Keeping The Gray Matter Supple

There is a well-known concept that learning another language broadens our abilities to learn, express ourselves and increases retention as well as enlarges our capacity to continue to learn. The brain is a very supple and pliable thing and when it is given tasks that cause it to stretch, then that's a good thing! Of course, this application is primarily geared toward adults. However, there is great value in the concept when it is applied to teaching babies and toddlers to use sign language as a means of communication.

What Are You Trying To Say?

Teaching a toddler or younger baby sign language can help to develop social and language skills. Even though a toddler may have several words and is able to communicate somewhat, there are still times when making themselves understood is difficult and frustrating. Many of the infamous tantrums associated with the "terrible two's" are the culmination of frustration at not being able to express emotions or feelings adequately. Sign language can make communication easier and more effective for a toddler, and helps to reduce the stress of a parent trying to figure out what, exactly, their child is trying to say.

Even if a child has already begun talking, sign language is beneficial because typically, a toddler has a small vocabulary. Baby sign language can be enhanced to accommodate a toddler's advanced level of learning and can also fill in the gaps of expression that the toddler may not be able to figure out with words.

Significant Benefits To Signing

The benefits of teaching a toddler to sign are significant. Since there are different learning modalities, like speech, hearing, and touching, sign language can provide an excellent teaching/learning tool. Baby and toddler sign language requires hearing and seeing, as well as touching (using the actual signs) as a means of communication. It's the best of all learning possibilities. The parent says the word out loud, using the appropriate sign and the child sees the sign, hears the word and then replicates it-teaching the child critical learning skills suited to his or her personal learning style.

Long Term Payoff

Signing improves the child's IQ and language abilities and it can help a toddler learn to read and improve their vocabulary. Preschool children especially benefit with increased vocabulary since the word is said out loud at the same time the sign is made and consequently, phonetics are taught. When a book is used at the same time as signing, then letters are taught. Ultimately, these early literary skills translate into excellent performance in preschool and school. Research has confirmed that these skills not only benefit the child in the early years of school, but enhance their learning all the way through their education.