Teaching a child Sign Language

Deaf children born to hearing parents are traditionally deprived of language for several years, if no one in the child’s family knows Sign Language. The deprivation can be prevented with the means of the most readily available language for Deaf children – Sign Language. Parents can learn along with their children to help promote the innate ability of children to cope, learn, and adapt to anything and everything life throws at them.

Children cannot begin to use speech until after their vocal chords mature. On the other hand, babies can begin to learn Sign Language from birth. If a parent were to start with ten basic signs, their child will be able to start communicating right away. Experts say that a child should have mastery of 25 words by the time they are 2 years old. If a parent were to use those 25 words from the day a child is born, the child could have those words mastered before other children of the same age. A parent could add a modest 3 words per week after 6 months. That would mean a child would know more than 100 words before they turn 2 years old.

The Nyle DiMarco Foundation was created by the famous Deaf actor, winner of America’s Next Top Model Cycle 22 and the winner of Dancing with the Stars 2016. Its website states, “The Foundation aims to improve access to accurate, research-based information about early language acquisition–specifically, the bilingual education approach. Through the early intervention process, the child’s language and literacy development should be the focal point.”

There are also several children stories in ASL that can help teach your child different concepts: language, literacy, numbers, facial expressions, and various school readiness skills. Parents can learn, too. Another positive side effect: your little one will not be able to pick up the words the neighbors use to curse at each other. All kidding aside, teaching your child Sign Language from birth will help to improve their language and communication skills. It will prevent your baby from crying in frustration, since you will know what they want they first time they sign it.

Chip Watts

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