Sign Language Benefits for Raising Children
Since our daughter was six months old, we started signing with her. A few friends and family members had suggested using some basic needs signs to assist smooth communication prior to speaking. Milk, more, water, and food were helpful starting points. It didn’t take long for our daughter to pick up on the signs we associated with the words and movements we showed her.
Before we knew it, we were communicating! Our daughter was empowered and able to share her world with us. We were delighted with how easy, fun and helpful signing was for us all. Hence, sign language benefits both the children and parents. Long before our daughter could speak, she could sign what she wanted and so much more. It was totally awesome!
Why Sign with your Baby?
Undoubtedly, I have learned that sign language is clearly not just for people with special needs. There are so many benefits and scientific reasons for learning sign language. Early on, sign language is a form of communication that can support correspondence and connection with your baby. Learning sign language can also accelerate and enhance their learning and speaking skills by expanding word association and vocabulary to their entire sensory world. Our daughter watched a signing program almost daily and was able to learn over 100 signs in her first two years. This also meant our family was learning them too and practicing with her.
Signing with our baby opened up an entirely new world of fun and exploration for us as a family. And now sign language is second nature to our daughter. To her, it’s normal to learn a sign to connect with a word or expression. She often uses signs like “potty” when she needs to excuse herself to the restroom.
Sign Language For Babies
In the beginning, after research and recommendations, we landed on Rachel Coleman and her American Sign Language (ASL) programs. Not only are these programs teaching infants, toddlers and youths sign language in a fun way, but they are also extremely educational in helping children understand themselves, their bodies and the world around them.
We started using the free YouTube videos to sample the work. We loved the shows layered teaching techniques. We saw the value in diving deeper and getting the complete courses to follow the entire educational program in sequence. We started with the four Baby Signing Times programs and watched them daily.
Limit Screen Time
This was the only screen time we offered our daughter when she was very little since it was visual learning and highly educational. And now that she’s a little girl, we follow the same philosophy of limited screen time with the exception some other educational shows, or to use an iPad on a plane flight or to FaceTime with her Tutu (Hawaiian for grandmother). The rest of her day is spent with toys, projects, reading, nature, hiking, gymnastics, swimming and other athletic activities, friends, and of course practicing signing.
Sign Language For Toddlers
Once our daughter had devoured the Baby Signing Times content we moved on to the regular Signing Times and Rachel and the Treeschoolers. We purchased them all to have plenty of variety and content. Plus we also have some of the extras like the holiday programs, Potty Time and Building Sentences. You can either purchase these for lifetime online access or choose the monthly subscription program.
The videos are filled with Signing Times composed songs with real life footage of other children signing. Also included is real life video whether it be of animals, food, a place or experience focused on in that particular lesson. There are also fun cartoon graphics added like their mascot, Hopkins, the frog. Now after three years and almost a daily dose of Signing Times, we often find ourselves singing the catchy well produced songs.
In addition, our daughter has really loved the Rachel and the Treeschoolers content. Even though there is less signing in this program, the shows cover topics in more detail for the growing child’s curious mind. It’s not often you hear a toddler talking about gravity, moon phases and a gibbous moon. But thanks to this program, you can go through the solar system and back, discover animals all over the world, learn table manners and general health and nutrition, plus sign.
Our daughter often says things that seem out of the blue, but it all goes back to her Signing Times schooling. “Mommy, did you know salt melts ice?” Or “Mommy my favorite planet in the solar system is Jupiter.”
Repetition and Consistency
Almost every day we play one of the Signing Times shows. The daily repetition and the way the show is produced with a “see it, say it and sign it” philosophy all positively influenced our daughter’s education. Plus we use sign language daily with her. So yes, we watched the shows too. The first 100 words we all learned covered basic needs, animals, colors, food, feelings, manners and more.
As with any skill, repetition and consistency are critical. If you want to get better at something, you must practice. To this day our daughter still watches the same shows she’s been watching since we started and she loves them. They are timeless. We only just recently added the new Rachel and Me show to the repertoire.
I believe the videos have helped our daughter learn the alphabet, count, and facilitate exploding her vocabulary with an array of words and topics she may not have yet been exposed to at such a young age otherwise.
Rachel Coleman’s programs
I love that the programs also offer PDF downloads for additional content related projects. There is also sign language curriculum for teachers and homeschoolers. Check out the free previews for more information on:
- Baby Signing Times – ages 0-3
- Signing Times – ages 4-12
- Rachel and the Treeschoolers
- Rachel and Me
- Potty Time
- Baby Joy Joy
- Hip Hop Hopkins
Rachel’s Sign Language Benefits
By the time our daughter was three, we have found that she has not only learned hundreds, if not more than a thousand by now, of signs, she has also learned:
- Eating healthy food
- Fruits and vegetables and basic vitamin content
- The alphabet
- Counting to more than 20
- The solar system
- Basic science
“See it, Say it, Sign it!” Definitely do it!
Our brains grow exponentially in the first few years of life. My husband and I can clearly see how sign language has influenced our daughter’s growth. We also heard from other people around her third year how well spoken and articulate she is for her age.
What we have found with our daughter is that she loves the programs so much, we continue playing them daily. She even wakes up asking for Signing Times. We will continue to support her interest in sign language and the opportunity to utilize the American Sign Language skill in her personal mental tool kit for her future.
Regardless of age, as we have proven as adults learning ASL with our daughter, sign language is a fun, functional and valuable tool in which we can all benefit. If you are looking for a creative educational outlet for your children, perhaps introduce them to learning sign language. Besides, translators are always needed in business, so down the road this skill may help them with career options.