Guest post by Emily Patterson

My BFF uses signs w/ her kids and it seems to work.She started when her daughter was 6 months and by 16 months her little one was potty trained. With her little one not being a talker , it helped she could sign restroom. So when Emily asked if she could do a guest post I was more than happy to agree.

Early Exposure to Sign Language Gives Children a Competitive Edge

by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas

Early childhood education in signing give pre-verbal youngsters a way to communicate, strengthens the parent-child bond, and gives children a solid foundation for learning a skill that will serve them well in the future.
What’s the Best Age to Start Teaching Your Child Sign Language?

Research has clearly demonstrated that the early years—ages 2 to 5—are the best time to educate children in different modes of communication and language. This goes beyond the spoken word (though it is an optimal time for children to learn a second language); many young children have an aptitude for signing as well.

Many indigenous peoples around the world, including American Indian nations, have used sign language for centuries to facilitate communication with other tribes with whom they do not share a language. Some paleontologists and anthropologists theorize that Neanderthals—who apparently lacked the vocal mechanism to produce many spoken words—depended a great deal upon hand gestures to communicate.

In fact, recent research suggests that sign language is innate. An article published in the Boulder Daily Camera in 2003 presented strong evidence that babies as young as six months old communicate with their hands:

“…by 6 to 7 months, babies can remember a sign. At eight months, children

can begin to imitate gestures and sign single words. By 24 months, children

can sign compound words and full sentences. They say sign language reduces

frustration in young children by giving them a means to express themselves

before they know how to talk.” (Glarion, 2003)

The author also cites study funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development demonstrating that young children who are taught sign language at an early age actually develop better verbal skills as they get older. The ability to sign has also helped parents in communicating with autistic children; one parent reports that “using sign language allowed her to communicate with her [autistic] son and minimized his frustration…[he now] has an advanced vocabulary and excels in math, spelling and music” (Glarion, 2003).
What Competitive Advantages Will Children Who Know ASL Have?

Evidence suggests that the best time to start learning ASL is before a child can even walk. The implications for facilitating the parent-child relationship are amazing.

One of the keys to surviving in a tilted economic system in which opportunities to achieve a decent standard of living will be limited is versatility and the ability to communicate articulately in a variety of ways with the widest possible audience. This includes bilingual ability as well as the ability to communicate in non-verbal ways for the benefit of the disabled—primarily the deaf.

At the same time, a growing shortage of qualified interpreters fluent in American Sign Language has led to more career opportunities—and if current trends continue, it’s likely that skilled ASL interpreters will have little problem securing lucrative employment in a society where such a commodity is destined to be in short supply.

Co-written by Emily Patterson and Kathleen Thomas
Emily and Kathleen are Communications Coordinators for the network of Georgia educational child care facilities belonging to the AdvancED® accredited family of Primrose educational child care schools.  Primrose Schools are located in 16 states throughout the U.S. and are dedicated to delivering progressive, early childhood, Balanced Learning® curriculum throughout their preschools.


cmbrlnd said…
Soooo wish I had heard more about this when my kids were little. A few women I know taught their little ones to sign and it was easy to see how much simpler it was to communicate. Instead of whining, screaming or crying till they could figure out what their kids wanted they just knew.
crisc23 said…
Hev is doing so much better now that she can talk more. She talks in full conversations so it def would have helped if I taught her this. TJ is on his own learning time