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Baby Signing:

Jessica McGlynn

July 8, 2007

 

Benefits of Baby Sign Language

            Teaching infants Sign Language has become an increasingly common method among hearing families.  Parents are beginning to teach their babies signs for a number of reasons, which aid both parents and their child in the crucial developmental stage of life.  Studies have shown major benefits that come as a result of teaching infants American Sign Language at a very young age.  (Garcia, 1999) 

            Studies performed by the National Institute of Health have found many long and short-term benefits of teaching Sign Language to children at an early age.  Sign Language allows for infants to communicate very early in life, much earlier than the child will be able to express sufficient speech.  Signing reduces frustration as children can let parents know what they are feeling or wanting without constant crying and aggravation with miscommunication.  Signs can also let you know if your child is hurt or sick and what precisely they are feeling, which can be a vital asset.  Using sign language allows for more bonding and interaction that comes with communication and allows for the parent and child to have a closer relationship early on. (Briant, 2004) Teaching a child Sign Language stimulates multiple areas of the brain whereas speech alone merely exercises one area. Using speech as well as signs can enhance the child’s understanding of the word.  Another major advantage of teaching a child American Sign Language includes the fact that studies have shown that those who learned to sign at a young age had a higher Intelligence Quota of twelve points than children who did not learn to sign. (Watson, 2006) 

            Some of the more personal advantages of using signs include getting an earlier glimpse into the world through your baby’s eyes as they begin to communicate their understanding and interpretation of the world around them to you.  You can also realize how smart your child really is as they share an early glance into their mind and feelings with you. (Briant, 2004)  In fact, research has shown that infants are more clever and understanding than we may think at their early age.  They begin to learn nearly immediately after birth and the first few months are a vital stage of learning development.  Signs are also communicated through vision, of which around ninety percent of information is received.  Signing allows babies to communicate and express their needs and feelings long before they have developed the ability to speak (Garcia, 1999)

            There are also some specific benefits of American Sign Language that a child will receive.  While enhancing learning and communication, your baby will also be learning another language, which is an enormous perk.  Sign Language can be used later on in life as their sign vocabulary expands to communicate with other people who are familiar with that language.  Additionally, parents will be able to publicly give specific words or instructions to their child such as “stop”, “sit down”, or “time to go” without noise or the possible distractions but still communicate a clear phrase to their child that can be easily understood. (Watson, 2006)  

One of the primary concerns of teaching signs is that it will impede a child’s speech development.  This should not be a concern because learning American Sign Language at an early age has actually been shown to support talking sooner and with a greater comprehension and communication than children that did not use signs. (Garcia, 1999)

In conclusion, teaching a baby Sign Language at an early age can help them to communicate earlier and includes numerous benefits.  American Sign Language, when taught early on, can enhance intelligence, development, bonding, comprehension, interaction, and easier communication resulting in invaluable advantages to both parents and child. 

 

References

 

1.      Briant, M. (2004). Baby Sign Language Basics.  Carlsbad, California: Hayhouse, Inc.

 

2.      Garcia, J. (1999).  Sign with your Baby: How to Communicate with Infants before They Can Speak. Seattle, Washington: Northlight Communications. Bellingham, Washington: Stratton Kehl Publications.

 

3.      Watson, J. (2006).  Baby Signing for Dummies.  Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc. 

 


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