I’ve just learned about a woman in my area who helps parents to communicate with their babies before the babies are old enough to use language — by using sign language! At first it seemed crazy to use sign language with a baby who can hear. I mean, a deaf baby, yes, of course. But a hearing baby? Sign language?

But the more I read about it, the more it makes sense. I can see how it would cut down on frustration for parent and child alike, and we probably use informal sign language in our interactions with tiny children anyway… so why not use signing in a productive way?

What are generally the benefits of signing with hearing babies and children?

* Enables pre-verbal children to communicate their wants and needs.
* Accelerates communication and results in earlier verbal language.
* Reduces frustration.
* Enhances receptive and expressive vocabulary.
* Makes learning to read easier.
* Enhances creative ability.
* Results in a higher IQ (10-12 points).
* Promotes a closer child/parent/caregiver bond.

According to Diane Ryan of Kindersigns, “Research has shown that while babies may lack the fine motor skills to speak, they do have the ability to understand and use language as early as 6-7 months. And given the right guidance, they have lots to say – with their hands.

“When you teach your hearing baby a few basic signs extraordinary things happen!”

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. domestika

    That’s really neat! You know, when you think about it, all humans (of any age) simply long to be able to communicate with others. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to give young’uns all the means of communication possible. And the younger, the better! Good for your wife, learning some of “another language” like ASL, and sharing it with your son — at the very least, she’s teaching him to observe and learn!

  2. Brandon G.

    It’s only partially related, but my (hearing) wife has always prided herself on being able to sign the alphabet. When she sings the alphabet song to our (hearing) son (who turns 2 next month), she often signs it as well. You can tell that something is registering with our son when she does this; he’ll often start playing with his hands as if trying to mimic her signs. It’s pretty neat.

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