Over the years, we have incorporated more and more sign language into our classroom, especially in the infant/toddler classroom. Utilizing sign language with young ones has so many great benefits and rewards. Here are a few:
1. Less fuss, more fun: As a parent, it is a constant battle trying to figure out what is behind the tears or anger coming from your child. If your 1 year old has the sign for hungry, it'll be easier for you when they're grumpy at 3:00 and you don't know why. Less time is spent on trying to figure out what is going on when they have the sign for the words they can't phonetically pronounce yet.
2. Smarter baby: Research has shown that teaching your baby starting young (6 months) will make it easier for them to continue learning during preschool years. For example, if your child knows the signs for the letters, they'll catch on quicker than expected which quickly leads to them learning letter sounds, and eventually reading.
3. Greater communication: When a child knows how to sign, they have greater communication which in turn leads to less violence. Toddlers don't really have the vocabulary to get their point across, which is why they choose to hit or bite or push. If they have the sign for angry, they'll be able to use that sign to their friend or teacher before that hit or bite even happens. This opens up a world of communication where words are used before violence.
Learning sign language at home can be a super easy and fun task. No one is expecting you to teach your child the entire English vocabulary in sign language to your child before they get into Kindergarten. If you are interested in using sign language at home, all you need are a few everyday words to get your family started! The signs we use the most are "more", "please", "eat", "wash", and "help". These words are used everyday and are easy to remember. All you need is a good ol' Google search to get you started on your sign language journey.
Even though we use sign language the most in the infant/toddler room, we use sign language daily in the preschool room as well. During group time, we learn the sign for our color of the month and practice the signs for the colors of the previous months along with using the daily signs that I stated above as needed.
If you ever have any questions about how to begin signing at home or how we use it here in even more detail, feel free to ask! That's what I'm here for.
- Ms. Jenn