Sign language is a valuable tool for children of all ages, but did you know that introducing it to children at a young age can have even greater benefits? From improving communication and social skills to fostering a stronger bond between parent and child, teaching sign language to children can have a profound impact on their development and growth. But what is the best age to start teaching sign language? In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of starting young and provide tips and resources for introducing sign language to your child.
The benefits of teaching sign language to young children
- Improved communication and social skills: Sign language allows children to communicate more effectively and independently, particularly for children with hearing impairments or speech difficulties.
- Cognitive development: Learning sign language can also improve cognitive skills such as memory, problem-solving, and attention.
- Parent-child bonding: Teaching sign language to your child can also foster a stronger bond between parent and child as it allows for more interactive and engaging communication.
- Preparing for formal education: Introducing sign language at a young age can also prepare children for formal education, as it helps with language acquisition and comprehension.
- Reducing frustration and tantrums by allowing babies to communicate their needs and wants before they can verbally express themselves
“What is the best age to learn sign language?” or “Can I teach my 4 month old sign language?” are questions we often get.
When should I start baby sign language?
The appropriate age to start teaching baby sign language varies based on the individual child. Some experts recommend starting as early as 6 months old, while others suggest waiting until around 8 or 9 months. It is important to keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace, and some may not be ready to start learning sign language until they are 1 year or older. Even if you wait longer than a year, children can still learn to combine hand signs with verbal cues at an older age. Babies typically begin to develop the motor skills and cognitive ability necessary for signing at the age of 6 months.
It is also important to keep in mind that teaching sign language is not just for babies with special needs, it can be beneficial for all babies and can be a fun and rewarding experience for both the parent and child. Just start with the basic signs.
What signs should I teach my baby first?
- “More” – This sign is used to indicate that a child wants more of something, such as food or a toy.
- “Milk” – This sign is used to indicate that a child wants to drink milk.
- “Diaper” – This sign is used to indicate that a child needs a diaper change.
- “Sleep” – This sign is used to indicate that a child is tired and wants to go to sleep.
- “Eat” – This sign is used to indicate that a child is hungry and wants to eat.
- “All Done” – This sign is used to indicate that a child is finished with a task or activity.
- “Drink” – This sign is used to indicate that a child wants a drink of water or juice.
- “Help” – This sign is used to indicate that a child needs help with something, such as opening a toy or getting out of a high chair.
These signs can be simple and easy for babies to learn and use, and can help them communicate their needs and wants in a more effective way.
Tips and resources for introducing sign language to your child
- Start with basic signs from this video library
- Make it fun: Incorporate sign language into daily activities and routines, such as signing the alphabet during bath time or signing songs during playtime.
- Use visual aids: Use flashcards, videos, and apps to help children learn and practice signs.
- Take a class: Look for local sign language classes for children and families, or consider hiring a private tutor.