Why Start Teaching Sign Language When Your Children Are Young?
Many parents who want to introduce sign language for kids are unsure of the best age for kids to start learning. They may be afraid that, if they start too early, the child will not be able to learn and understand what the signs mean. Other parents worry that teaching a baby or toddler sign language may make them talk later or discourage them from practicing speech and using their words.
In fact, the opposite is true. Research has demonstrated that adding the visual and kinesthetic elements (American Sign Language) to verbal communication helped to enhance the vocabulary, spelling, and reading skills in the participating preschool children. This research was conducted by Dr. Marilyn Daniels, a professor of speech communication at Penn State University. Babies as young as 6 months can learn to make and understand basic sign language and communicate with others. By teaching the spoken word along with the sign, many parents find that their children learn to speak faster and more easily than many of their peers. If you are wondering when the best age is to learn sign language for kids, then the answer seems to be while they are only a few months old.
By starting at 4 to 6 months, you can help your baby communicate with you and begin learning sign language naturally and easily. Many children will make up their own signs, signals, and motions to communicate, but they might go unnoticed or the parents may not understand them. By teaching your child the correct signs to use, you will not only be giving them a good basis in another language that they can use to communicate with others as they grow, but also sharing a language with them before they are able to speak clearly. This usually makes both baby and parents happier and more frustrated, because a child can simply sign for “mommy” or “daddy” or “milk”, instead of growing upset and hoping that you will be able to decipher their cries.