Do you use ASL with young children?

ASL

Why you should use ASL with young children

More and more schools and early childhood learning centers are teaching some ASL (American Sign Language) to their (hearing) students.

It seems counterintuitive, to say the least. Young children are still learning their own language – receptive, oral and written. Isn’t that enough? Why burden them with the task of learning another language?

As it turns out, there are many benefits to introducing ASL to young children.

ASL supports children’s memory for language. Unlike spoken languages, ASL represents information through seeing, hearing, and movement, and the more pathways that are created in the brain, the stronger the memory. And it actually reinforces concepts including the alphabet and themes such as animals and colors. So rather than distracting, ASL supports the use of spoken language.

There’s also evidence that learning some ASL in the early years increases children’s academic achievement later on, leading to better grades and even higher IQ’s.

ASL also empowers young children by providing them with another way to communicate. Plus, studies show it may make it easier for children to learn other (spoken) languages.

It’s very easy to incorporate teaching ASL words into storytelling and songs. I love to use signs in both traditional and my own original songs, and my students learn the signs quickly and enjoy using them on their own.

By the way – the young girl in the picture above is making the sign for “I love you.” I’ve taught this sign to children I work with, and when I leave a class, rather than having everyone shout out “Bye, Miss Abby!” we all make this sign – a calm, quiet, and very happy way to end our class!

 

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