Friday, April 24, 2009

31% of Wee Hands instructors are speech-language pathologists!

In the past week, I have read many people assume that a child learning sign language can actually hinder their verbal development. I have asked those that have been in the field (not just a pediatrician who has no formal training on the subject, or a neighbor who never hard of such a thing!) and they all say they have yet to come across any reliably backed up studies on ASL delaying speech, but the exact opposite!

Yes, I am passionate about this. Not only because I am an instructor, but also because I have seen the benefits for more years then I have been a mother!

Sign language is a wonderful resource in the classroom – from infancy, preschool, kindergarten, and beyond. Sign language reinforces auditory skills by adding visual and kinesthetic input. Signing also stimulates connections in the brain and provides a secondary avenue for conceptual understanding to occur. Sign language also improves spatial skills that are important for solid reasoning. There are so many cognitive benefits to learning sign language!

Research conclusively indicates that babies who sign tend to have a stronger command of verbal language and often begin speaking at an earlier age than babies who do not sign. Countless parents and caregivers have confirmed these findings with their personal experiences and observations. In addition, many Speech-Language professionals, pediatricians, and educators are supporting the use of signs to encourage early language development.

Even in a study by the National Institutes of Health found this to be the case: A study funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that children who sign as infants are advanced linguistically and cognitively in preschool and have higher IQ’s in elementary school than non-signing children.

From the company Wide Eyed Learning, makers of Signing Smart: Wide-Eyed Learning recently completed their National Research study with over 165 infants. At 12 mos., Signing Smart children use an average of 25 signs and 16 spoken words, versus the 2-3 words non-signing children use. At 18 mos., Signing Smart children use an average of 79 signs and 102 spoken words, versus the 10-50 words non-signing children use. Between 11-14 mos., a majority of Signing Smart children begin using signed/spoken “sentences,” about 10 months earlier than is typical!

Through this note, I am searching and searching for articles stating just the opposite...I can not find matter what words I use to search or how I word it.

Signing is also a great way to help children with special needs such as Autism and Downs Syndrome efficiently communicate with their family, friends, and teachers!

Many tantrums and the "Terrible Twos" are directly linked to frustration about communication. There is less frustration when your child can augment their communication skills with signs that both of you can understand.

Teaching sign language to your child can even encourage early reading! I know of a few kids so far, that started reading simple words from books after being read and signed to, before the age of 2!

I would just like it if more people would do their research, or talk to professionals in the field, before passing on false or inaccurate information. It does not help anyone!

Becka has a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and Development, and has 17 years experience in the field. She is a Certified Parent Educator and Licensed Baby, Toddler, and Preschool Sign Language Instructor. You can visit her site, at

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