Does Signing with Children Delay Natural Speech and Language?

While at a trade show yesterday I met many families who have used sign language, were interested in taking sign language classes or my past signing families! I enjoy hearing stories about how signing has positively impacted a family and how they are able to communicate with their young children. The best feedback I received yesterday was how a family can see how their child feels empowered to be able to communicate with her parents!

However, there were parents who expressed concern that using #ASL signs with their children may delay natural speech and language. The short answer is no! I think the confusion is due to the fact there is often confusion between  speech and language. Here is a great link explaining the difference:

http://www.playingwithwords365.com/2012/01/what-is-the-difference-between-speech-and-language/  (this blogger is a Speech and Language Pathologist).

When a child is using baby sign language (ASL signs) they are using language, and bridging the gap to meaningful communication! How wonderful is is that a non-verbal baby or a late talking toddler is able to use a true language to communicate their needs and have a sense of empowerment over their environment?

The Mayo Clinic promotes the use of Baby Sign Language stating, “Baby sign language — when babies use modified gestures from American Sign Language — can be an effective communication tool. Teaching and practicing baby sign language also can be fun and give you and your child an opportunity to bond.”

To read full article:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/expert-answers/baby-sign-language/faq-20057980

Our classes are also language rich as teach baby sign language through music, signing, movement, sensory activities. we encourage parents to constantly talk with their children while using baby sign language to support and encourage verbal English.

Please feel free to ask me any questions!

Tanya Myrfield-Wofe – BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Instructor, and Parent Educator

My Smart Hands Saskatoon

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“It is vital when educating our children’s brains that we do not neglect their hearts” ~Dalai Lama

Invitations to Play and Signing to Support Learning

This past week’s classes we were discussing the importance of play and exploration. A conversation came up regarding a type of play called invitations to play, or invitations for learning, or play exploration. I thought that this would be a good topic for this week’s blog.

What is an Invitation to Play?

This is an intentional and planned collection of materials that a parent/caregiver prepares and sets up with which a child plays and explores. Invitation to play is an open invitation for a child to use as they desire. This can be a sensory basket, organized colour bins, paint daps, and much more.

How Children Learn?

Children are sensory learners. This means that children learn though: tasting, touching/feeling, seeing, hearing and smelling. Parents can encourage child’s learning by setting up an invitation to play, watch their child explore and then begin to talk and sign with their child.

How can you use American Sign Language signs during play?

There are three main ways to learn: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. Using sign language with your child allows for all three types of learning. Your child is learning though their visual (sight) by seeing the sign. Auditory learnings see their parents use the American Sign Language signs while saying the English word. Kinesthetic learners move their hands to communicate before they are able to express themselves through language.

If you provide your child with an egg carton filled with 6 different coloured plastic eggs. You many watch your child explore “opening” and “shutting” the container, they may take the eggs “in” and “out”. A child’s learning is supported by their parents/caregivers. When you see a child begin to explore, act like a broadcaster saying what the child is doing while signing key words. For example “Elijah, you took the yellow egg out of the container and put in the blue egg”. (ASL signs that maybe used are in bold).

Another idea is a winter sensory basket. This can filled with “white” cotton balls, “blue” pom poms, snowflakes, snowmen. As a parent, you can have an idea of how your child will play with these times. You may want to have them practice fine motor skills and provide a shovel and pot or have them feel the different textures of the pom poms, cotton balls and the hard plastic snowflakes. An example of signing and talking: “Those soft balls are blue, the white balls feel like fluff. Can you put the ball in the pail? Oh, you took the ball out!

What to Remember About Invitations to Play?

All types of sensory play, invitations to play and play exploration is well supervised time. There can be many choking hazards in this type of play. This does not mean it is not safe, it means that parents have to be engaging in play with the child to ensure safety.

Examples of Invitations to Play!

20 months old

Sorting play. This invitation to play can be used as colour sorting or item sorting based on child’s need to explore and discover.

16 months old

Colour and shape recognition invitation to play.

14 months

Sensory bin focused on fine motor skills

Photo 5

This invitation to play was set up to show the difference between soft and hard toys. As everyone can see, climbing on the basket was much more fun.

DSCN2650

Playing with hand crafted stones- focused on shape sorting from http://www.artinstones.com/

DSCN2655

Pattern play with natural rocks from http://www.artinstones.com/

Please let me know your comments and thoughts on invitations to play and signing.

Happy Signing,

Tanya Myrfield-Wolfe- BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Language Instructor, & Parent Educator

My Smart Hands Saskatoon

http://www.mysmarthandssaskatoon.com

http://www.facebook.com/MySmartHandsSaskatoonBabySignLanguage

Does Baby & Toddler Sign Language Promote Whole Child Development?

My Smart Hands Saskatoon is a program that teaches parents how to communicate with their children by using American Sign Language (ASL) signs. Our classes use ASL signs, as the research studies indicate that using a true language has more benefits that making up signs or gestures. We also, believe that ASL is a true language, and why not borrow this language’s signs to communicate with your child? Technically, you are teaching two languages. How neat is that?

Each week in our classes we cover a new and exciting theme! One of my favorite themes is ‘toys and objects’ as this week we play, explore and play some more. However, in all of the weeks, parents and children will be introduced to child development activities. Whole child development is very important, and is a key focus in our baby sign classes.

The whole child activities that we include in our classes focus on: physical, intellectual, social, emotional and language development. Here are some examples of how we promote child development and whole child wellness while maintaining the premise of ASL signs.

Physical (fine and gross motor skills)

Fine Motor:

In our ‘opposite’ theme we will bring out sensory boards and bins. These boards help children explore their world through various textile items. Parents are encouraged to sign, ‘touch’, ‘feel’, ‘look’, ‘rough’, ‘soft’ and much more.
Gross motor skills:

In our “animal” theme we will be going to the zoo and move as animals. This song and activity is a wonderful way for parents and their babies to move around the room, dance together, act like specific animals, and sign to the sounds each animal makes! Movement and music do promote a special bond.

Social Development:

A child’s social skills are being strengthened and encouraged in our classes. My Smart Hands Saskatoon, has small class sizes which are between 3 to 6 families. We keep our classes small, to ensure families get to know one another and their children recognize familiar faces each week.

All the parents and their children are welcomed to sit together on a shared foam square. Toys and easy to sign books are places in the middle to encourage play and exploration while parents are sharing their stories, asking questions and learning signs to be used in the following activity. We experience many first in our classes- first time a child signs, first crawl, first roll over and even have had our first steps!

Emotional Development:

Babies and toddlers are learning about their emotions and are not able to self-regulate. However, in our classes, we often discuss ways to help a child learn to self-regulate. This is done though song, movement and bouncing activities. Parents will also learn various ’emotion’ signs during our last week together! We sign and sing, “If You are Happy and Know it” as well as “Happy Face Happy Face What Do You See?”.

Intellectual (Cognitive) Development:

Using ASL signs strengths and connects neurological brain connection. This means the activities that we use in our classes, increases and promotes intellectual/cognitive development.

An example of an activity is our ‘shake’ bottles. These bottles are often filled with water, sparkles, soap and water. Together, the parent and their child, shake the bottle and watch the changes. The specific brain development concept that is being learn is called, cause and effect. This activity is completed in our “toy/object” theme.

Social Development:

One main reason we keep our class sizes small, is that the children are able to socialize with the other children. Various child activities, promote social skill development such as movement and music. We sign and sing a version of “open shut them”, when children need to move about, which includes the sign “stop” for the English word freeze. All the parents and children have to “stop” until the music starts again. This song is teaching the social development skill of turn taking!

Language Development:

In short, language development is occurring during all of our baby sign language classes. Research indicates that a child needs to hear a word 200 times before verbally saying the word.

In all of our baby sign language classes, we are promoting the use of two languages! These are our verbal English and American Sign Language signs. Children are able to comprehend a single work though both auditory and visional learning. We never replace our verbal English, rather we support language development though using ASL signs

Please join us for a baby sign language class, and learn many more ways to promote whole child development!

Happy Signing,

Tanya Myrfield-Wolfe- BSW, RSW, Certified Baby Sign Language Instructor, & Parent Educator

My Smart Hands Saskatoon

http://www.mysmarthandssaskatoon.com

http://www.facebook.com/MySmartHandsSaskatoonBabySignLanguage

Cell: 306-202-9345

 

“It is vital when educating our children’s brains that we don’t neglect to educate their hearts.” – Dalai Lama