Sign Language in Early Childhood Education
Sign language is not just for the hearing impaired. There is a great need for sign language in Early Childhood Education. Sign language is a form of communication. By teaching infants and toddlers sign language, we are giving them the ability to communicate far sooner than the timeframe in which their verbal skills develop.
Have you ever experienced a young child trying to tell you something and you just couldn’t understand? Maybe they lacked the vocabulary to communicate. Maybe they had speech difficulties. Either way, you simply could not understand. What happened? Frustration! The child became frustrated. You became frustrated. What if I told you that learning simple sign language could alleviate that frustration and open a whole new world of communication between you and your child? From that new world of communication arises a new relationship in your home… a bond… a feeling of success and love. Isn’t that worth exploring?
At Kidz World, we teach sign language to our toddlers. This form of communication gives them the words they have not verbally achieved. It allows communication peer to peer and child to teacher. Often, in a room of toddlers, the lack of verbal skills causes frustration. That frustration turns into biting and hitting, behavior that is unacceptable. When you teach infants and toddlers sign language, you are giving them the ability to express themselves and thus avoid the frustrations that cause the bad behavior.
Learning with the eyes
Children learn first with their eyes. In learning sign language, a child is not only reading the hand movement, but they are learning the facial expression… the emotion of the word. The human brain is an absolute miracle. Simply by studying the word through the hand movement, the brain is able to interpret the emotion through other small movements in the body and face. Simply saying the word “play” does not articulate the fun that can be had through play. However, signing “play” puts a smile on the signer’s face and the child’s face. When we sign, we are much more emotional in our speech and over-emphasize to get the meaning across. Children pick up on this very quickly and learn much faster than an adult would learn sign language.
Repetition is the key to teaching and learning sign language. It may take a while for the infant or toddler to complete the sign perfectly. As the child ages, you can advance the lessons into alphabet and on into signing out whole words. Learning sign language is the same as learning another language. It takes time and patience, but the outcomes are truly rewarding. The benefit of communicating with your young child is nothing but a blessing.
Below are several simple signs that your child may already be signing, if not, go ahead and teach them! I also encourage you to watch this video, Through Your Child’s Eyes, from CSUN.edu.
Simple Sign Language for Infants and Toddlers
Author: Belinda Davis ©2018