Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The "Signs" of Language Learning

I was doing some research today on baby sign language and ran across an interesting article.  Even though sign language is a great way to encourage early communication in young children, some parents, like the one in the article, are concerned that this form of early communication might delay their child's verbal development.

The opposite is typically true. The combined experience of movement and spoken language encourages your baby's understanding of the word, as well as increases retention of the new word. This is because he is engaged actively in the learning experience, and the movement has stimulated the brain to receive the incoming information. "Talking and signing together flood the baby with language," says Acredolo whose research, published in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, indicates signing may even give children a slight future verbal edge. "At 36 months, the [signing] babies in our study were speaking, on average, the equivalent of non-signing 47 month olds," she says. *

Parents can begin to work on baby sign language as early as 3-6 months, and children will typically begin to sign back around 6-12 months old. However, it's not too late if your child is past that age. Sign language can be a fun way to communicate for children of all ages. I recommend taking a sign language class, such as Sign and Sing, with your child to learn how to present the signs in an interactive, age appropriate, and fun way. A sign language class will also help you to understand your child's hand development. If a sign is too difficult for them to form, your child will likely make adjustments to the sign. Once you learn what to look for, you may be surprised to find your child has several signs they are already using.

*MSNBC.com article written by Victoria Clayton

1 comment:

J. Burroughs said...

We started with My Baby Can Talk (http://www.mybabycantalk.com/index.aspx) DVDs, then moved on to Signing Time (http://www.signingtime.com/). Both are great! Not only do they show the sign with the picture, but they show the printed word and say it aloud, so children are learning the word as well as the sign. There are great opportunities for boosting vocabulary in general. The important thing to remember is to learn and practice signing with your child. You learn a new, a second language and help reinforce your child's learning.