Is there a time when your toddler or young child should stop using sign language?
The answer that immediately comes to my mind is “never”.
In my opinion, it is still advantageous for children to keep using sign language even after they start talking.
Why do I think that?
Sign Language Aids in Brain Development
Some experts think that learning sign language develops more of the brain than learning a spoken language.
When people are learning a spoken language, the information is received, processed, and stored in a small area of the brain’s left hemisphere.
But when learning sign language, the visual information is received by the right hemisphere, then transferred to the left hemisphere for processing and storage.
Sign Language Develops Different Parts of the Body
Sign language also uses different parts of your body. You use your eyes, hands, and body movement to communicate in sign language. In the spoken language you use your ears, tongue, and mouth, although body language is also communicative in itself.
Sign Language Can Be Used Throughout Life
If your toddler and older child continues to use sign language, he will always be able to communicate with the hearing impaired persons he meets.
It can be used when spoken language is inappropriate or impossible such as in church or in a very noisy situation. The next time you hear parents loudly telling their baby to “stop,” think of how much more pleasant it would be if that baby were quietly being told to stop in sign language.
Learning Two Languages Simultaneously Strengthens Both Languages
Last, although some people may feel it’s confusing to learn two languages at once, one study found when people learn two languages at the same time they learn both languages better.
Teaching Your Baby Sign Language
Don’t spend a fortune on books and videos for sign language products before you have experience. The truth is that sign language is not hard to learn for you or for your baby. I would only purchase two, possibly three, sign language items.
My recommendations for teaching your baby sign language:
1. Dr. Joseph Garcia authored the classic in the sign language field: Sign With Your Baby.
Buy the video only or buy a kit which contains the video, a short and simple to understand book, plus a chart showing the signs.
The sign language video is a must for the section on teaching sign language and the last section which demonstrates American Sign Language words.
I would buy the kit to get the accompanying sign language book unless you buy the CD Pick Me Up at the same time. That CD includes a workbook.
One sign language book is probably enough although both of these sign language books have their positive and different attributes.
2. At the same time I would add the music CD Pick Me Up for the signing and singing as well as the excellent sign language workbook for parents. This fun, interactive experience for you and your baby is all it normally takes to rapidly add words to your American Sign Language vocabulary.
3. If at any time you or your babies are having problems learning sign language, purchase Baby See N Sign, Volume I. It presents American Sign Language words three different times: as a still picture, in slow motion, and at normal video speed.
Frankly, I believe the above three items are all the sign language products you need to own.
If you have an expanded budget, here are some other sign language products I would consider buying.
Why purchase any sign language items? Why not use the library for your sign language needs?
You probably need at least one sign language product on hand for reference. A CD of music to sign by teaches sign language daily. Plus your baby can watch a sign language video like Baby See N Sign to supplement your own signing.