1. Teaches early communication skills and reduces frustration
Your child will not start talking until they are around 12 months old. However they can communicate through making gestures from around 6 to 8 months. That’s where signing comes in. By teaching your child some simple sign language, they can communicate with you and others so making their needs known without having to get upset and frustrated.
2. Boosts the self esteem of both you and your child
Enabling your child to copy your signs (even if they aren’t correct!) and communicate with you is a huge self esteem boost to both you and them. They are able to make you understand what they want and you can understand easily without playing guessing games or being subjected to a tantrum. Make sure you reward with lots of clapping and positive facial expressions. It will encourage him/her to keep copying.
3. Gives them an advantage when starting school
The communication of language is both spoken and visual. In our constantly changing world the visual is often stronger than the spoken. Therefore putting the two together in using both signing and speech at the same time reinforces the message you are trying to get across and enables your child to learn words quicker. Signing shouldn’t stop your child from speaking. Indications are that the opposite is most likely true as, as long as words are spoken along with the signs, then a child’s speech may be more advanced rather than it hindering them. A child can actually learn from 30 to 60 signs before they have their first birthday. They are learning a far greater vocabulary than children who don’t sign before they are ready to start school.
Signing with your child is a great way of interacting with them and the more you sign the more receptive they will be and their communication skills will keep developing. Don’t worry if your child laughs at you, it shows they are at least paying attention!
5. Helping children with speech or language difficulties to “fit in”
You are also helping those parents who have a child who may have speech and language difficulties but don’t want to teach their child to sign in case they stand out from other child in a negative way. If signing is seen as normal then it becomes more socially acceptable in all circumstances and encourages all parents and their children to learn. My son had hearing difficulties when he was born and it was so important for him to learn to sign so he could communicate with me before he was able to have hearing aids. I also knew the benefits of signing so it felt a completely normal thing for me to do and I would love all parents to feel that whether or not their child can hear properly.
6. Great for multilingual families
Although sign language is different throughout the world, if your family speaks more than one language at home then signing can be a great tool to bridge the gap and you can use the same sign in each language giving your child a tool to be able to understand everyone.
Signing is a win, win for you and your child. You can both learn a new skill, have enhanced bonding time and enable your child to communicate before they start talking.