Parents are often divided as to whether using sign language with their children can have any sort of negative impact on their speech development. In fact, the field of baby signing for children with a variety of special needs and hearing impaired children has grown over the last years. However, some families introduce sign language early as a means to emphasize on their child’s communication skills, while others consider that learning sign language might delay their child’s speech.
Baby signing has been widely accepted by psychologists and childcare professional as encompassing a broad range of benefits both for parents and children. In this context, research studies suggest that deaf and hearing impaired children do not experience any negative impact as a result of using sign language. In contrast, sign language enables children to express themselves better well before they are able to speak.
Because they haven’t developed their speaking ability yet, young children use sign language with creativity, while learning about the sounds and speech patterns in their families. Anything they hear, feel, and experience, they communicate it with the sign language, which is always at hand and they know how to use it. Besides, the iconic nature of sign language often leads to stronger associations between words and meanings. Children use signs to bridge the gap between the picture they have on their minds and the physical experience of the word they cannot express. This reduces their frustration and enhances communication between them and their environment.
Besides, using sign language increases IQ levels of children. Lacking the ability to produce and articulate words, children have to think more of which sign to use to express their thoughts accurately and precisely. Children benefit from increased IQ scores that typically show a 12-point difference between children who use sign language and children who do not sign.
A common myth about using sign language in children is that as a child grows up will choose to use signing over verbal speech. On the contrary, research suggests that verbal speech is preferred over signing because the vocabulary skills of children who are taught the sign language are enhanced. Children use gestures as a natural social language of childhood and in this context signing can provide a more natural experience than English when it comes to learn a spoken language. Again, sign language is used to bridge the gap between the signals and imprint of the language.
Conclusively, learning sign language includes a broad range of benefits enhanced communication skills and stronger relationships between parents and children. Without any doubt, children benefit from development of fine motor skills, increased IQ scores, enhanced vocabulary, enhanced reading and spelling skills and increased creativity. Parents benefit from a great bonding experience with their children and a wonderful communication.